Age old issue

Coodes managing partner Jeremy Harvey

Make the most of your staff whatever their age is the message from south west employment specialists Coodes Solicitors and Sapience HR

The deadline has now passed to give the required six months notice to any employees that will be retired at or after 65 as the default retirement age is scrapped on October 1 this year.

It means employers must now carefully manage discussions about retirement with their staff to avoid discrimination and support employees as they continue to work into older age.

Jeremy Harvey, managing partner of Coodes Solicitors, says: “A compulsory retirement age is still possible under this legislation if it can be justified, for example under health and safety.

“However, it will become increasingly common for people to continue to be working well in to their late sixties, seventies or older.

“I see this having an impact on organisations where performance or needs of an employee could change as one gets older. It’s important for an employer to encourage meaningful discussions about the options available to an older worker.”

Harvey recommends drawing up a policy or guidelines for older workers to ensure staff can continue working happily in their senior years whilst the employer maintains a productive workforce.

He also advises that this could be carried out through consultation with members of staff aged 50 or over. Retirement plans could be discussed in line with regular appraisals to understand how an employee may wish to progress their career.

Issues that may affect an older employee and are worth discussing are health, use of technology, workloads and length of shift or the working day.

Sue Hook, managing director of Hayle-based HR consultants Sapience HR, comments: “An annual appraisal is an ideal time to discuss an employee’s ongoing career aspirations, even if this is on a more informal basis if you are a small company.

“For any employee, younger and older, it’s worth reviewing on a regular basis how they are enjoying work and how they are performing.

“Everyone has key skills, qualities and experience. It’s about getting the best out of the people in your company.”

Coodes is now offering retained employment support as part of its expanded business services. Launched at the Cornwall Business Fair on May 18, the firm offers a comprehensive service to businesses of all sizes with specialist legal experts based throughout Cornwall and Devon.

Led by commercial partner Christian Wilson, the service covers all aspects of business, from setting up to succession planning.

Wilson explains: “We’ve been established in Cornwall and Devon for hundreds of years, yet we are completely focussed on the needs of businesses today.

“We’ve been listening to our commercial clients about what they need to support and protect their future interests. For example, we are starting to introduce more fixed fee services so people know what they are paying upfront.

“As a result, we are offering a comprehensive service for businesses at all sizes and all stages of growth, from intellectual property to protect a new idea to succession planning to help your exit strategy.”

This article first appeared in the June 2011 issue of Business Cornwall magazine