According to a recent report in the Nikkei, McDonald's in Japan is reinstating a mandatory retirement age of 60 from next year (Jan. 2012). The supposed intent is to 'nurture younger workers within McDonald's corporate culture.' In fact, this year McDonald's started appointing age 20-something employees to management level positions. They say that shows that they are placing more importance on promoting younger staff.
Seven years ago McDonald's was actually considered an innovative company because they instituted a performance based wage system vs the traditional seniority system (pay per number of years there). Then, in 2006 they abolished forced retirement.
Now, the company says they "moved too quickly" by shifting emphasis to individual performance and they should have waited till they had a process in the corporate culture to groom successors. So, now they will add one's ability to groom successors for their jobs to the evaluation system.
The average age of McDonald's employees in Japan is around 35-36. Those who are age 60 will be permitted to stay for another year or more. And, since the labor law in Japan does have an age discrimination clause, they will introduce a system for rehiring workers who are not yet 65 on one-year contracts.
By the way in case you were wondering - about 23% of Japan's poplulation (about 29 million people) is over 65 and that will grow to nearly 40% by 2050. But, do they buy burgers 'n fries? Maybe not. The burger buying population, assuming they are mainly in the 15-40 age range is about 18 million.
So, is McDonald's really making progress with this move or are they just perpetrating more of that oh-so-common-issue in Japan, worker age discrimination...