NETHERLANDS - The Dutch cabinet want to abolish the compulsory retirement age of 65 for civil servants, in order to encourage employees to working longer, it said.

The decision is part of a package to stimulate all workers older than 55 to keep active as long as possible. The cabinet will actively inform employers, employees and company’s personnel departments on the legal possibilities of carrying on working.

At the moment, there are hardly any legal restrictions for non-civil servants to continuing a career beyond 65, if both the worker and his employer share this wish, the ministry of Social Affairs indicated. “However, there are many cultural obstructions, e.g. a negative image, because many people think over 65’s shouldn’t work.”

The cabinet also said it will investigate if the compulsory salary pay-out during two years of illness for workers can be limited for over 65’s. This is a response to the oft-cited objection to the obligation by employers.

The announced information campaign will focus on the legal position of workers of over 65. “Both employers and workers must think of different conditions, and a more tailor-made contract,” the ministry explained.

The government’s efforts to increase labour participation should however prioritise the age group of 55 to 65, the cabinet stressed. “This partly as a stimulus for over 65’s to keep on working”. For the next five years a growing labour participation of the age group of 60 to 64 is crucial, it added.

The cabinet said there is no indication that increased numbers of over 65’s will ‘substantially’ compete with younger employees. It also stated that it is opposed to individuals deciding at which age their state pension AOW – now at 65 – will start.

According to the cabinet, an increasing number of elderly wish to continue working after 65. In 2004, 83,000 over 65’s – mainly self-employed workers, migrants and women returners - were working beyond their official retirement age.

The Netherlands is one of the EU countries with the highest labour participation of men under 60. The official retirement age is 65, but the effective retirement age is 61 on average.