Dude, you’re too old to work here

UK Employees Being Forced into Retirement

In the UK, many people are being coerced to leave their jobs once they hit a certain age. At least, according to AXA. Check out this recent press release…

One in five UK employees still pressured to retire by their employers

  • One in five (20 per cent) retirees have been forced out of their job by their employers
  • Nearly half of Brits (48 per cent) retire before the minimum legal requirement
  • Employers could face £45m1collective compensation bill for age-related discrimination claims

A study2 by leading insurer AXA has today revealed that, despite the introduction of age discrimination legislation in 2006, ageism is still rife in today’s workplace, with thousands of retirees reporting experiencing pressure to quit their job by their employers. ( Page 14 ). In addition, UK plc could face a collective compensation bill of over £45m1 if employers are taken to tribunal for age-related cases.

Forced into retirement

Research from AXA’s international retirement scope survey reveals that three in five (60 per cent) British retirees retired before the minimum legal age of 65. Whilst most did so through choice (80 per cent), one in five (20 per cent) experienced pressure from their employer (Page 14).  However, on the up side the survey does show that age discrimination legislation is beginning to have an effect, albeit a slow one, with the number who have been forced into early retirement by their employer falling since 2006 (28 per cent). (Page 14).

Steve Folkard, head of pensions and savings policy at AXA commented: “Despite legislation making it unlawful to discriminate against workers on the grounds of age, our study clearly shows that some employees are still being coerced into early retirement; meaning employers could be leaving themselves dangerously exposed to litigation.

“Employees coming up for retirement need to be aware of their legal rights and exercise these if necessary. Employers should also review their retirement policies and decision making processes to make sure they are protected against both future and retrospective claims. The cost of a successful claim can be significant and will be even higher when legal costs and damage to reputation are taken into account.”

Brits’ attitude to retirement

The research also shows that Brits are more likely to retire early through choice (48 per cent) compared to the international average (36 per cent). This is almost double the numbers that retired early in both France (23 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Workers in Canada (73 per cent) and America (56 per cent) were the most likely to have retired early.  (Page 15)

In addition, around half of those still working (47 per cent) and those retired (49 per cent) do not approve of raising the minimum age of retirement. However, since the study was last conducted in 2006, there has been an increase from 19 per cent to 27 per cent amongst retirees in favour of increasing the minimum age of retirement. This compares starkly with Japan and Hong Kong, where 70 per cent and 71 per cent of workers respectively approve of raising the retirement age. (Page 18 – 19)

British attitudes towards working post-retirement were mixed, with over half (51 per cent) of all workers expecting to work in retirement. However, the study shows that only one in ten (11per cent) take up a second job in retirement. (Pages 16 – 17).

Steve Folkard continued: “The results suggest that Brits are reluctant to see the age of retirement raised, and a significant number have already retired early. It is interesting to note how many people think they will continue to work but subsequently do not; perhaps once they hit retirement they decide they want to make the most of their “golden years”.


  1. The now defunct DTI has predicted there will be around 5,250 age-related discrimination claims in 2007-08. The average claim awarded per claimant is £8,679, giving a total of £45,564,750.
  2. The research was conducted among a sample of 305 working people aged 25 and over and 301 retired or in early retirement aged under 75 across a sample of 26 countries. The telephone interviews were carried out between July 12 2007 and August 8 2007.

About AXA

AXA UK is a part of the AXA Group. AXA Group is a worldwide leader in Financial Protection. AXA’s operations are diverse geographically, with major operations in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific area. For full year 2006, IFRS revenues amounted to €79 billion and IFRS underlying earnings amounted to €4,010 million.

The AXA ordinary share is listed and trades under the symbol AXA on the Paris Stock Exchange. The AXA American Depository Share is also listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol AXA.

Our previous company performance is not a guide to how we may perform in the future.The value of the funds can fall as well as rise, possibly due solely to excahnge rate fluctuations, and is not guaranteed. The value of property is a matter of valuer’s opinion not fact.

Any opinions expressed in this media communication are made as at the date of this publication but are subject to change without notice.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


Pin It on Pinterest