Enforced retirement at 65 looks set to continue
David Woods, September 23, 2008
A European Court of Justice adviser today rejected an appeal from Heyday, the membership organisation of Age Concern, against enforced retirement by bosses which, it claimed, constituted age discrimination.
UK employers have been allowed to compel staff retire at age 65 since 2006. Age Concern claimed this was age discrimination and have campaigned on this matter ever since.
Today's verdict means employers have been granted the legal right to compel staff to retire at 65, says the adviser, the advocate general.
While the advocate general's decision is not binding, it will have an impact upon the European Court of Justice's decision-making. It is expected to issue its official ruling on the case in the next few months.
Paul Quain, managing associate at law firm Linklaters, said: "It is very likely the European Court of Justice will follow this recommendation. The European court has batted the issue back to the UK Government to make up its own mind."
"This is good news for employers. It will help them manage their workforce and control [staff] expectations."
Employees still have a right to request postponement of retirement. According to the CBI, 30% of employees in the UK requested postponed retirement in 2007 and 80% of these requests were granted by employers.
Katja Hall, director of employment at the CBI, said: "We agree with the advocate general's opinion, which reflects a sensible and fair approach to this issue.
She added: "Firms offer a growing range of options but they must retain the right to say no and retire people with dignity at the end of their career. Losing the ability to retire people at 65 could lead to unintended consequences, with employers less inclined to take on older workers"
And Catharine Pusey, director of The Employers Forum on Age, comments, "Today's news leaves us no further forward on the issue of default retirement in the UK. It would be wrong for either side to claim a victory.
"It's not just attitudes to working beyond 65 that need to change. The fiscal reality is that the UK economy can no longer afford a culture of early retirement; many of us will have a third of our lives ahead of us as we collect our first pension cheque."