New rules on when people have to retire should make insurers change their attitudes to the maximum age they accept people for insurance –but it may be a slow process to get some insurers out of the mindset that everyone suddenly becomes less healthy at 65.
From October 1st 2011 older workers are protected from employers who want to fire them because they think they are too old.
The Default Retirement Age (DRA) which gave employers the right to sack staff that were 65 and over purely because of their age has been abolished.
Age UK hopes it will prove a major catalyst in ending age discrimination in the workplace, which is still rife five years after regulations made it illegal.
Research shows that many line managers responsible for day-to-day workplace practice are still prejudiced against older workers despite official company policy.
Another study found that only one in six bosses believes their business is equipped to deal with greater numbers of older workers - a potentially devastating finding in a country where the workforce is ageing.
The Default Retirement Age (DRA) was introduced in 2006 at the same time as regulations (Employment Equality (Age) Regulations) intended to stop age discrimination in the workplace. But the impact of the regulations was undermined by the DRA, which is finally being abolished after a long campaign by Age UK.
Michelle Mitchell of Age UK says: "The end of the Default Retirement Age is a victory for older workers who for too long have been consigned to the scrapheap for no reason other than prejudice. There is still a long way to go before older workers are treated as equals in the workplace. We have seen a very small improvement over the last five years but as the statistics show, not nearly enough. We hope that, by taking away the arbitrary best before date for employers, attitudes towards older workers will quickly evolve to look at their skills and experience, not their date of birth. With an ageing population traditional rigid ideas about retirement are changing. Many people will want to work longer for personal or financial reasons and prejudice should not lock them out of the workplace. The government must continue to work with employers and trade groups to highlight the benefits of hiring older workers. And that message must trickle down to line managers who are responsible for day to day hiring and management."