New employment regulations, due to come into force in October, will mean retirement at 65 years of age is no longer mandatory and employers must offer workers the chance to continue in their jobs.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 give new rights to workers over 65 and remove the upper age limit for unfair dismissal or redundancy payments.

Employers will also have to give workers six months’ notice of a planned retirement date to allow them to prepare.

Strutt & Parker consultant Richard Taylor said farmers needed to understand the new legislation.

“Employers must start to review the employment of staff – full-time or part-time – over 65 and decide whether either party wants that employment to continue.”

Although 65 remained the “default” age for retirement, employers must now have a justifiable reason why that employment need not continue, he said.

Employees over 65 could claim unfair dismissal if employers failed to follow the new regulations, Mr Taylor said.

“Grievance and disciplinary procedures should be clearly set out in contracts of employment, which became mandatory in October 2004.”

Chris Kaufman, the Transport and General Workers’ Union’s secretary for agriculture said:

“It can only be right that employers are prevented from discrimination on age grounds.

But we do recognise that a lifetime of hard manual labour, as found in agriculture, should mean people can look forward to a decent retirement.”

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