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Sunday 21 July 2019


Majority of staff in Irish companies ask to work beyond contractual retirement age

Written by Sunniva Kolostyak

Irish employees at 71 per cent of companies want extended working lives, increasing the pressure to change contractual retirement age, a survey has found.

According to a Willis Towers Watson (WTW) survey, just 18 per cent of companies have introduced formal flexibility when it comes to retirement age. However, experts forecast as two out of three employers consider greater retirement age flexibility.

The findings indicate Irish workers’ approach to career longevity is changing but that the companies in the country are ill-prepared for a labour force that wants to continue working for longer.

WTW surveyed 136 companies of various sizes, across a broad range of industries, to ascertain the general practice amongst Irish firms when it comes to retirement age practices both in terms of official policy, and informal case by case flexibility, for their workforce.

The survey found that 85 per of organisations have a Current Contractual Retirement Age (CCRA) in place. 90 per cent of these organisations have set their CCRA at age 65, the previous state pension age.

However, 71 per cent of the respondents have received requests from employees to work beyond retirement age and 65 per cent are currently considering the introduction of retirement age flexibility. Only 18 per cent of respondents have already introduced retirement age flexibility.

Commenting on the survey, WTW head of corporate benefits consulting Brian Mulcair said: “For many people, retirement at 65 no longer symbolises the start of the work-free era, as many employees of that age feel that they have much more to give and increasingly want to stay on, either in their current role, or by contributing in some other way to an organisation. Sometimes this is out of a desire to keep working.”

“However, for others it is out of necessity, with recent reports suggesting that many more people will carry a mortgage into their sixties. The increase of the state pension age to 66 in recent years and the increase to age 67 in 2021 will also mean that some people cannot afford to retire before they start receiving this payment.”

Although the majority of organisations believe they have given this issue due consideration, it would seem that there is a gulf between the perception of what is needed and the reality. The reality is that 71% of organisations say they have received requests to remain in the workforce beyond contractual retirement age – yet only 18% have an official policy on what to do in these situations.”

Mulcair pointed out that companies need to consider how they can introduce flexibility in their employment contracts.

“Clear work policies in this regard are crucial, or employers could find themselves in challenging circumstances over the next few years as more and more employees request flexibility. Ever increasing numbers of age discrimination cases are being brought before the Workplace Relations Commission.”

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