What rights do employees accused of bullying have?
After some prevarication, and consultation with business concerned about the effect that such a move would have on recruitment and retention of staff, the Government today announced that the Default Retirement Age (the age at which employers can force employees to retire – currently 65) is to be abolished from 6 April 2011.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey sought to calm the fears of business over the move by saying –
"I think this [change] is really beneficial and should not be the problem some people suggest...as of now, you are still able under the Employment Rights Act 1996 to fairly dismiss someone if you go though the proper processes - and one of the reasons you can dismiss someone fairly includes capability." Somewhat contradictorily, however, Mr Davey went on to say that the evidence that capability declined after the age of 64 "...was not really there."
From 1 October 2011 no employee can be compulsorily retired by an employer because they have reached the age of 65 unless that retirement can be "objectively justified". To assist employers in doing this, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has released guidance for employers on the new retirement procedures.
In future, the new ACAS guidance will be required reading in future for employers seeking to retire staff. In determining whether an employer has acted properly in "objectively justifying" a retirement the Employment Tribunal will rely on the ACAS guidance as indicating best practice.
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