The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the ageing population and an increased willingness to work among older people meant it was time for the government to scrap the default retirement age, a law which allows firms to force staff to finish work at 65.
It said scrapping the rule would remove the "safety net" for employers and encourage more radical approaches to issues such as flexibility, handling the performance of workers of all ages, and improving occupational health.
Hand-in-hand with this change, EHRC said, the government should extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and consider introducing incentives for flexible employers, with a particular emphasis on the over-50s.
The commission said the economy "would be the biggest winner" from the proposed changes, with research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggesting that extending working lives by 18 months would earn Britain L15bn. . .
A survey of 1,500 workers by the commission suggests a rule change would be welcomed by many workers. It found that 64% of women and 24% of men wanted to remain economically active after the state pension age (currently 65 for men and rising to 65 for women by 2020).
Around 60% said they wanted to continue working but on a part-time basis, while 40% said they would like to stay in their current jobs but with greater flexibility in hours worked. . .