Press release

Publication of DWP research reports to support the review of the default retirement age

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Five reports are published today by the Department for Work and Pensions and by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

  1. Second Survey of Employers’ Policies, Practices and Preferences relating to age - SEPPP2: DWP Research Report Number 682 and BIS Employment Relations Research Series 110.
  2. Review of the Default Retirement Age: Summary of the Stakeholder Evidence: DWP Report 675
  3. A Comparative Review of International Approaches to Mandatory Retirement: DWP Report 674
  4. Pathways to Retirement: The Influence of Employer Policy and Practice on Retirement Decisions: DWP Report 673
  5. Default Retirement Age: Employer Qualitative Research: DWP Report 672

Five reports are published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  Findings have been used to inform the review of the Default Retirement Age (DRA).

These studies employ qualitative and quantitative methods as well as literature and evidence reviews to produce a robust examination of matters relating to retirement, the DRA and the right to request working beyond the DRA. These are explored from the perspective of employers, individuals, submitted evidence and international publications. The key findings from these studies are outlined below.

Employer Research - Opinion policies and practices

  • A third (32%) of employers had a compulsory retirement age, and of these 58% thought that it is important to have one. Having said that, 30% of employers who did not have a compulsory retirement age thought it was important to legally be able to retire someone at 65+ and some of these had made use of the legislation. Overall 39% of all employers thought the DRA was important.
  • Small organisations were less likely to have a compulsory retirement age. Compulsory retirement ages were more common in the public sector (43% of employers, compared to 28% of private sector organisations), and in the financial, public administration and manufacturing sectors. It was less common in construction, hotel and catering, wholesale and retail (24%).
  • Employers’ attitudes towards the DRA were mixed.  Employers without a compulsory retirement age (CRA) thought the DRA was discriminatory in its conception, unnecessary and bureaucratic. Employers with a compulsory retirement age emphasised its importance as a way of managing workforce succession planning, providing a framework for discussing retirement and as a way of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
  • Individuals experienced a range of employer policies leading up to retirement which differed in terms of formality, employee involvement and final outcome. Individuals varied in their awareness knowledge and expectations of the DRA and their employer’s specific policies to retirement. Some individuals felt they were fairly treated throughout the retirement process and had a positive opinion of their employer even if the final retirement outcome was not what they desired. The study also identified examples of less coherent policy which was not clearly or uniformly applied.
  • The International Evidence suggested that where mandatory retirement age was increased or abolished, alongside an increase to the state pension age, and the launch of campaigns to tackle negative attitudes to older workers, participation rates often increased. However where mandatory retirement was made illegal on human rights grounds, without accompanying policies, there was no clear-cut evidence suggesting a significant increase in participation rates.

Notes to Editors

  1. The research reports are being published today together with the consultation document, Impact Assessment and the Review of the Default Retirement Age - Summary of Evidence.
  2. Second Survey of Employers Policies, Practices and Preferences (SEPPP2) by Hilary Metcalf and Pam Meadows, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) in conjunction with the TNS-BMRB is published today in BIS Research report series 110 and DWP Research Report Number 682. This research was commissioned jointly by DWP and BIS. The study was based on a representative survey of 2205 establishments in Britain with at least five employees, conducted between October 2009 and January 2010. The Second Survey of Employers Policies, Practices and Preferences was commissioned to enable evaluation of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations which were implemented in 2006 and to inform the review of the Default Retirement Age, set at 65, which was introduced with the Age regulations. Findings from a baseline survey - the first Survey of Employers Policies Preferences and Practices was published in 2006 (Metcalf and Meadows 2006, DWP Research Report 325 (http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2005-2006/rrep325.pdf).
  3. Review of the Default Retirement Age: Summary of Stakeholder Evidence by Wendy Sykes, Nick Coleman and Carola Groom, Independent Social Research. This report was commissioned by DWP and BIS. It summarises evidence submitted in response to a call for evidence announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in October 2009. Evidence was received from 23 external stakeholder organisations representing business and employer associations, professional bodies, academics and organisations championing age equality.
  4. A Comparative Review of International Approaches to Mandatory Retirement by Andrew Wood, Marisa Robertson and Dominika Wintergill, RS Consulting. This research consists of a literature review examining existing, published evidence on international approaches to mandatory retirement. Eight case study countries were selected to represent a broad spectrum of approaches and a range of experiences of age legislation, including countries that have never had specific age legislation; countries that have had age legislation for longer than the UK; and countries that have increased the minimum permitted mandatory retirement age or banned it altogether.
  5. Pathways to Retirement: The Influence of Employer Policy and Practice on Retirement Decisions by Gareth Morrell and Rosalind Tennant, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).  This research was commissioned by DWP. The study was based on 51 depth interviews conducted with individuals from across the UK aged 61-72, who had taken a range of different routes to retirement or continuing to work. The research report was produced by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).
  6. Default Retirement Age: Employer Qualitative Research by Andrew Thomas and Juliet Pascall-Calitz, TNS-BMRB. This research was commissioned by DWP. It consisted of 54 depth interviews conducted between November 2009 and February 2010 with a range of employers in terms of size, industry and retirement practices. All employers, since 2006, had in their employment an employee(s) aged at least 64.5 years; they also all had experience of retiring an employee.

Copies of the research reports can be downloaded from the DWP’s website: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep682.pdf http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep675.pdf http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep674.pdf http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep673.pdf http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep672.pdf

Copies of the consultation document “Phasing out the Default Retirement Age” and the Summary of Evidence can be downloaded from the BIS website: www.bis.gov.uk/retirement-age

Review of the Default Retirement Age: Summary of Research Evidence http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/r/10-1080-retirement-age-summary-research