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Pathways to retirement

Gardening man
Published: January 2010


We were asked to find out how employer’s policies and procedures influenced a person’s decision to retire. The results of our study informed the Government consultation that led to the phasing out of a default retirement age of 65.


If a person’s expectation of retiring was very different to the reality, this could be down to their employer's retirement policy, even when taking into account that person’s finances, health or family.

Retirement policies that were easy to understand and consistent with an employer’s practices helped people to take ownership of their retirement decision and resulted in them having a good experience.

People who experienced a difficult retirement process said they were excluded from decision-making and felt they had made uniformed choices. In some cases individuals even felt discriminated against.

Employers who responded to a person’s request to work beyond 65 by supporting and guiding them through this process were seen as treating and valuing all employees equally.

Employers who didn’t support those who wanted to work beyond the default retirement age were viewed as treating this process as a 'tick-box' exercise and were open to perceptions of age discrimination.


We conducted fifty-one qualitative depth interviews with people who were retiring before, at or after their company's normal retirement age.

Our sample included people from the public, private and voluntary sectors and from small, medium and large companies. Participants were drawn largely from our Family Resources Survey, although a small number were accessed through voluntary organisations and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Read the report