Forum voices opposition to ‘crippling’ retirement age plans
business support group has hit out at plans to abolish the default
retirement age. The new Government this week said it intended
to press ahead with the previous administration’s plans to remove an
employer’s option to retire staff at the age of 65. If the
proposal goes ahead, businesses could be forced to start keeping on
staff indefinitely in little over a year’s time.
The Forum of Private Business believes that this could prove highly
damaging to thousands of small firms.
Currently, there is nothing to
stop an employee working on past 65, providing his or her employer
agrees to it.
Many businesses are well aware of the skills and experience older
workers provide and are happy to maintain their employment.
However, if the default retirement age is scrapped, business owners
will be forced to keep on workers past the age of 65, whether they
want to or not.
This, the Forum believes, will prove a huge problem for thousands of
small firms, hampering their abilities to plan for the future. The
move could also open the door to costly and painful employment
tribunals, as an employers’ only means of ending employment will be
through a ‘capability dismissal’ based on the declining competence
of the worker. In recent survey, just 4% of Forum members felt
removing the default retirement age was justifiable.
Forum spokesman Chris Gorman said:- “We are by no means
disputing the valuable skills and experience older people bring to
the workplace. Many small businesses are happy to keep on
members of staff well into their late 60s and 70s – indeed, many
Forum members themselves are well over 65.
However, removal of the default retirement age will cripple some
small businesses by removing the tools that help them to plan for
the future. Most employees are certainly competent enough to
work beyond the age of 65 without a significant deterioration in
their abilities. However, for those employees not willing to leave
voluntarily, there will eventually come a time when the needs of the
business will have to be considered.
In the absence of a default retirement age, the only viable option
available to an employer is a capability dismissal based on the
declining competence of the worker. We believe this would be an
undignified and humiliating end to a career for most staff.”
Forum member Stuart Mitchell, of Derbyshire-based Machine Building
Systems Ltd, agrees. He said:- “What this proposal will
do is to force employers into a situation where they have to spend
huge amounts of time taking older employees through a disciplinary
process in order to end their employment.
Many an employer has allowed someone a dignified retirement because
although they were not really up to the job any more, it was only a
matter of waiting a few months or a year, and the problem would
resolve itself happily.
Once this rule comes in, that will be pointless and they might as
well start the unpleasant and costly disciplinary process straight
away as it will be inevitable at some stage. What effect will huge
numbers of these disciplinary proceedings have on the morale of the
other employees? Never mind that of the boss who does not enjoy the
process any more than anyone else.”
Mr Mitchell added:- “Employers are people too, and their
morale is of vital importance. To deliberately and knowingly set up
avoidable conflicts, is a stupid way to govern.”
The Forum set out its views on the issue in response to a Government
consultation in February, emphasising the need for small firms to be
able to plan ahead, especially during times of economic uncertainty.
The Forum also pointed out that just last year, the Government
defended the default retirement age in the High Court, arguing that
it brings numerous social benefits.
Following the Government announcement regarding the abolition of the
default retirement age today, Beth Hale, associate in the employment
group at law firm Stephenson Harwood comments:-
Announcement not thought through
"Whilst abolishing the Default Retirement Age (DRA) altogether
may be viewed as a laudable aim in terms of allowing older workers
the flexibility and freedom to continue in employment for as long as
they want, it does not appear that either the government have
thought through fully what this will mean in terms of costs and
administrative burden for employers, let alone the potential impact
it has on younger workers who are looking to break into the job
market. These issues will be particularly acute if the change is
brought in quickly, as is currently proposed, rather than on a
A more sensible approach than total abolition is an increase in the
DRA, possibly staggered over a period of years (whether in
accordance with or ahead of the increase in state pension age) and
preferably in tandem with an increase in rights to request flexible
working for older employees as suggested by the EHRC."
Added difficulties for employers
"If employers are no longer able compulsorily to retire
employees at a certain age, it will make effective succession
planning extremely difficult. Employers will not be able to predict
accurately when senior employees are likely to leave employment and
will, therefore, struggle to ensure that their successors are in
place and ready to take over as and when necessary. This also
potentially risks creating resentment and tensions within the
workforce as younger employees feel that they are hitting up against
a glass ceiling and unable to progress beyond a certain level as
they wait for their older colleagues to vacate positions."
Employer responsibility and support for older workers
"A key area that has not been properly addressed in the shouts
for the abolition of the retirement age is how employers could deal
with the additional cost of continuing to provide benefits for
employees who work beyond 65. Employers are often reluctant to
continue employment after 65 not because they don't want to, but
because they can't afford to. At present the cost of benefits such
as life assurance and private medical cover increases significantly
after age 65 and is often prohibitive, if such cover is available at
all. If the government is serious about encouraging employers to
retain workers for longer, this is an issue which needs to be
urgently addressed – at present, it often isn't economically viable
for employers to keep people on after 65."
Death by disrespectful driving costing drivers their lives and
millions on premiums
A new report
from leading UK insurer, AXA, calculates that 800 lives are lost on
Britain’s roads through accidents caused by road rage or
disrespectful driving, and nearly £1 billion (£945m) of premium
could be saved if British motorists were to rid themselves of the
aggression and general disrespect of their fellow drivers that is
commonplace on our roads.
The insurance business has launched findings of a report this week that illustrate the
extent to which road rage or ‘disrespect’ on the UK’s roads costs
drivers in terms of numbers of deaths a year. The nationwide
independent survey reveals that almost 40% of drivers involved in
the 222,100 accidents on British roads ever year say they were
frightened or angered by other drivers in the critical moments
before a crash. Of those, more than 20% said the inconsiderate
driving had come in the form of speeding, 25% said that others were
driving erratically, and more than 20% said another driver had been
ignoring road rules and signs.
The calculations are based on research that shows 35% of drivers
involved in more serious and costly accidents (those with a
‘personal injury’ element where someone is either killed or injured)
were either made angry or frightened by another driver’s behaviour
moments before the accident. Put simply, if these drivers were to
drive better and more considerately then the number of deaths and
premiums would come down
Over the last year, motorists have seen premiums rise rapidly -
11.5% in the 3 months to June 2010 alone. As well as the costs AXA
calculates for disrespectful driving, the British motorist already
pays an estimated £30 per premium for uninsured drivers and £44 on
their overall household insurance bill to cover fraud.
According to motoring psychologist, Peter Marsh, disrespectful,
aggressive driving can be the cause of an accident in itself but
also the negative emotions created by this type of driving can cause
other drivers to become irrational and make mistakes they would
otherwise not make.
He said:- “The study highlights clearly the powerful
psychological forces at work when we get behind the wheel of a car.
Our cars may be safer than before and our roads increasingly
designed to reduce accidents but unless we recognise and deal with
the strong emotional aspects of motoring, the factors that give rise
to uncharacteristic belligerence and sheer bloody-mindedness, we may
never be able to reduce much further the number of people who die
unnecessarily on Britain’s highways.”
Research carried out earlier in the year by AXA found that 79% of
drivers believe that British drivers are generally disrespectful to
fellow road users, with 52% having been subjected to a ‘significant’
act of road rage – shouting and aggression rather than just a quick
honk of the horn or a hand gesture. And 53% of drivers admit
to sometimes behaving aggressively behind the wheel while nearly 20%
will often behave in this way.
The behaviours categorised by motorists as ‘disrespectful’
from speeding, driving erratically and ignoring road signs to
beeping a horn in anger, making offensive hand gestures, yelling,
swearing and flashing headlights.
Over the last year, motorists have seen premiums rise rapidly -
13.4% in 2009. The group calculates that around £35 per premium pays for
accidents caused by disrespectful driving, and and as well as these
costs, the British motorist is also paying an estimated £30 per
premium for uninsured drivers.
Craig Staniland, AXA Insurance director for motor says:-
“Disrespectful driving seems to be reaching pandemic proportions as
drivers fail to see the potential consequences of thoughtless
driving. Our research shows that something so simple to rectify – ie
driving more courteously – is costing lives. A return to good
manners and consideration could prevent nasty accidents and needless
We are also very concerned that a continued lack of respect on the
road will drive up premiums further. Personal injury costs are
escalating as it is – if we can cut back the number of accidents
through a less aggressive and more considerate approach to the way
we drive then it will be to the benefit of all drivers”.
Additional research findings revealed that:-
► 6% of those questioned admitted that they themselves had been
disrespectful to another person in the moments before an accident
with 20% of these admitting that they had been abusive to other
drivers before the accident.
► Other drivers’
behaving erratically was the thing that motorists most commonly
cited as disrespectful behaviour on the roads followed by ignoring
road signs/rules and speeding. Abusive behaviour was also listed.
► Around 20% of
drivers were frightened or intimidated by the driver of the other
vehicle after the accident had occurred rather than just before.
► It took those
involved in road accidents on average more than 18 hours to get over
how the immediate emotions of the accident made them feel.
► Around 13% said an
experience of disrespectful driving had made them less likely to
drive in the future.
Join our campaign for respectful driving
MAN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH PAUL PIKE MURDER
A 24 year old
man from Dingle in Liverpool on 30 July 2010, was arrested in
connection with the murder of Paul Pike in Waterloo on 5 June 2010.
Mr Pike, from Belle Vale, was shot in his van while waiting a
traffic lights at the junction of Crosby Road North and South Road
at around 11.20pm on the 5 June 2010. Following that a murder
investigation was launched and two men were arrested on suspicion of
murder. The 24 year old man from Netherley who was arrested on June
15 and a 23 year old man from Allerton who where arrested on 14 July
2010 were subsequently released on Police bail pending further
enquiries. The new man to be arrested is from Dingle area of
Liverpool. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to
call the Major Incident Room on:- 0151 777 8629, or Crimestoppers,
anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.