By Claire West

New online research from YouGov reveals that only 24% of senior decision makers in small to medium business enterprises’ believe the current retirement age for men and women is right.

Recent government plans to abolish the default retirement age of 65 by October 2011 have caused major concerns for small and medium businesses. The short time scale in which businesses will have to prepare, in addition to the current economic climate, has promoted apprehension towards plans.

Interestingly, our results have found that 36% of senior decision makers in small to medium business enterprises’ believe the retirement age should be increased for both men and women. This surprising sentiment contrasts starkly with recent findings from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Their finding revealed that only a small proportion of UK managers consider their organisation well - prepared to cope with the demands of an increasingly older workforce. Despite this, only 4% of respondents feel the retirement age for men and women should be lowered.

When it comes to the issue of sexual equality in the workplace, 84% of senior decision makers in small to medium business enterprises’ agree the state retirement age for men and women should be the same. Interestingly, 11% of respondents disagree with this statement and nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) believe the retirement age for women should be increased, compared to only 1% for men.