Q: I'm 63 (and a half), quite fit and enjoying my work at a transport company, but I'm beginning to feel under some pressure - not from work duties but from colleagues. They have started to pass comments that sound innocent enough - 'how's your allotment coming along?', 'taken up bowls yet?' - but I find them irritating. How dare they assume that I want to be put out to grass on my 65th birthday? Also, I don't like them planting ideas in my director's head to the effect that it's nearly time for me to go. How can I put an end to this intrusive conjecture? Can I be made to retire at 65?
A: I sense from what you say that you're beginning to let your irritation show. That's understandable but unwise. Your colleagues - though they probably wouldn't acknowledge it - are indulging in a form of bullying, and bullies are always encouraged when they succeed in provoking a reaction.
At 63 1/2, you should have a clearer idea of your retirement plans. I know you're reluctant to open up the issue, but you must. New legislation has given older workers new rights to work longer, but you still have to make up your mind. You could probably make enquiries through your HR department without having to raise the issue with your director. Once you know that, you'll also need to know how your company rates you.
I'm afraid this cruel teasing is likely to continue as long as you yourself remain uncertain of your status and apprehensive about the outcome. The moment some certainty is established and known, the teasing will lose both its point and its pleasure.