Mandatory retirement is a company policy that requires employees to retire at a set age. On one hand, companies with a mandatory retirement policy might avoid becoming stale and outdated by constantly infusing their workforces with fresh talent. On the other hand, companies with mandatory retirement practices lose important, experienced portions of their teams when experienced, productive employees are forced to leave. Although the debate for and against mandatory retirement continues, compromise policies might satisfy both sides.
One common argument in favor of mandatory retirement is that it keeps professions and companies lively and dynamic. A company started by one person might be very powerful and successful for decades, but with the same person at the helm for more than 40 years, the company's best interest might eventually be harmed by operating on principles that are no longer relevant. In fields such as medicine, for example, trade associations, standard practices, and the culture of the field end up being monopolized by a previous generation, according to advocates of mandatory retirement.
Employ Young People
New ideas and approaches that are more appropriate to the times might be fostered by mandatory retirement policies. Arguments for mandatory retirement say that younger talent is unfairly being kept unemployed when seasoned and experienced workers hold onto jobs and influence. Mandatory requirement, by this logic, would inject a new energy and innovation into any given field, and would combat unemployment among young people. People forced to retire would not be harmed, because the younger people taking their places would contribute the resources needed to take care of them.
Arguments for mandatory retirement often make reference to the effects of aging on job performance. A lack of mandatory retirement policies might create unsafe working practices, especially in fields involving high-risk procedures, such as various military and medical fields. Mandatory retirement might be better served by determining each case individually. It is not discriminatory to fire a 75-year-old because he can no longer safely perform his function. However, it is discriminatory for a policy to assume that everyone who reaches 75 is incompetent.
Harm to Industry Experience
Mandatory retirement could force whole blocks of seasoned veterans to retire every year, with a deleterious effect on industry. Although any given field could stagnate if the same group dominated it for decades, quickly and systematically removing those elders would rob that profession of valuable experience and insight that could be passed on to new recruits. This argument assumes that new workers in any given field gain valuable skills and perspectives by learning from those who came before them.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."