Working longer

DCU is a young university, and one of the consequences is that it has a younger community of staff. In my last job in the University of Hull I was Dean of a Faculty, and typically we would have retirement functions for members of staff four or five times a year. In DCU, for the entire university, I have attended fewer retirement functions (and I do attend them all) in ten years than I did for one Faculty in Hull during three years. But right now the generation of entrepreneurial and determined colleagues who were there when DCU admitted its first students, and most of whom have stayed extraordinarily loyal to the institution, is approaching retirement age, and some of them have already embarked upon this new phase of their lives. On one of the occasions when we were celebrating their careers and wishing them well, a colleague who was retiring confided to me how she had dreaded this moment and how she wished she could still continue to work. And she remarked that one of her friends, an academic in the United States, was five years older than her but was still staying in her job with no intention of retiring any time soon.

Yesterday it was reported that the government will gradually phase in a new pensions and retirement framework under which the minimum state pension age will be raised from the current 65 to 68, albeit several years from now. Some of this is related to the fact that the taxpayer simply cannot any longer afford to pay pensions for everyone, in particular in the light of changing demographics and a tendency to live much longer. But is this enough? Is the idea of the compulsory retirement age (whatever that age might be) not now an anachronism? Indeed, is it fair? Should we not allow those who want to work longer to do so, as long as they are fit and able? In fact, should retirement not be an entirely voluntary decision?

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4 Comments on “Working longer”

  1. Felix Says:

    It’s funny how my attitude has changed over time.

    About 10 years ago, although I enjoyed my work, my desire was definitely to retire as young as I possibly could. Now I think differently. I want to get the most out of life for as long as possible. That could very well mean that I do some form of “work” beyond the official retirement age. I can’t predict what it will be or if it will be full-time or part-time.

    I think it goes with wanting to be occupied with interesting things that are mentally and physically stimulating. Obviously I can take my hobbies into retirement, but why retire at all if I can add value?

    So apart from financial planning for my old age, I intend to do some activity planning also. I owe it to myself to think about how I’ll spend my time past retirement age and give it at least an equal priority to how I’ll afford to live when I get there.

    The news of the changes to the retirement age didn’t impact on me too much as I’d like to enjoy working and contributing for as long as I possibly can and for as long as it is fulfilling.

    I recognise that everybody’s circumstances are not the same and therefore what I think would suit me would not be a plan that would suit everybody.

    But for me, as long as I’m physically able and I find it joyful, I intend to work in some capacity.

  2. Big Bad John Says:

    I’m with Felix on the concept of being gainfully occupied for as long as possible. There are only so many times per week that one can settle down to watching COUNTDOWN without ones brain starting to melt.
    However, what one also hears is the crunching sound of our esteemed government moving the goalposts. If I had planned to retire in 2014 (I’m not, I can go next year if I wish) then I would be a bit sore at being told that I’d have to stick to stoking up the inkpots for another year.
    And even if I had hoped to continue to work I would not be all that pleased about not being able to collect the state pension I’d paid for all the long years for a further twelve months.
    In some ways, these proposals are also a dosser’s charter.
    Many people have to retire when they’re 65. It’s in their contract of employment. At 65, especially in the current climate, it may not be all that easy to get another job.
    Dole Eireann then beckons.
    It won’t be so bad – now. I understand the job seeker’s allowance lasts for about 12 months. Thereafter, it’s replaced by a means tested “benefit”.
    However, when the gap goes from one to two and then to three years, if someone has been prudent enough to put a bit by, they’ll be expected to spend their few bob to keep going.
    Meanwhile, the person who has never worked (nor wanted!) – nor saved -continues blithely on his or her way picking up the bounty of the generous taxpayer.

    • Jilly Says:

      You raise an issue I’ve been wondering about since this was announced last night. I won’t retire for more than 20 years from now, so I’ll be completely included in this change. But according to my contract, I’m supposed to retire at 65: I presume this means that college will still be under no obligation to keep me after that point? But will my occupational/college pension now be paid to me at 65, or will it be withheld until I’m 68? If so, what exactly am I supposed to live on for the 3 years in between, bearing in mind that I’m not likely to find new work at that age?

      Like other posters here, I can live with the idea of working till I’m 68. I don’t relish the idea of watching Countdown, and from a practical point of view, academics take so long to start earning decent money that I could probably use another 3 years’ of salary. But I don’t fancy being kicked out of my job at 65 with no pension till I’m 68. Can they do this? Has anyone figured this out yet?

  3. NMQ Says:

    29 so can’t comment from age – probably some very naive and daft comments below 🙂
    But the logic of a defined age seems strange, should there not just be arrangements in place that you can continue to work, even in a reduced-hour capacity, so long as that person is still working well, challenging themselves still and providing useful resources to whatever-they-work at?
    Only way I would like to have a retirement age set is if I was just counting out the hours and not providing anything useful.
    I’ve worked with both types of people so far, some people who I wish had moved on (or retired) earlier than that (as they’re essentially just filling in the hours), and those who I love working with as they continue to show an interest in their job, and support to others in what they do (I’ve learnt a huge amount from some people who are very willing to pass down information to people starting out in the workplace and will be very disappointed to see them have to leave)!

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