Derrick Burgess *File photo
Derrick Burgess *File photo

Older workers should be allowed to work past the normal retirement age of 65, an Opposition shadow Minister said this week.

Derrick Burgess, the PLP’s public works spokesman and a former Government Minister, said forcing people to quit their jobs if they did not want to was discrimination.

The UK government has already axed the mandatory retirement age of 65 and made it illegal to discriminate against employees on age grounds.

Depending on when someone was born and whether they are men or women, UK workers qualify for the state pension between 61 and 65.

The former union leader added: “You shouldn’t be discarding anyone who is able to do their work.”

And he pointed out: “We have in most hotels, particularly the smaller hotels in Bermuda, employees who are 80 years old. Some work because they have to and some work because they love to and that is a good environment for our guests.”

Mr Burgess was speaking after UK statistics revealed that record numbers of retired people have rejoined the workforce (see panel, opposite page) .

Mr Burgess said the problem had worsened due to Government policy of cutting civil service numbers through attrition — not replacing people who leave or retire.

He added: “These older people do a good job — they come to work. If a person has life in them and they’re healthy they should be allowed to go to work.

“Every case should be dealt with on its merits, but we shouldn’t have automatic termination because someone hits 65. 

“These are some of the best employees, they turn up at work and do a damn good job.”

Mr Burgess said: “I’m not saying people should be made to work past 65. If they want to retire, that’s just fine, but people want to work they should be allowed to work.

“As long as people get a clean bill of health annually, they should be allowed to work. They should be allowed to work until at least 70. A few years ago, 65 was old, but times have changed and people are living longer.”