Retirement and Age Discrimination

The Workplace Relations Commission [ “WRC” ]  in a recent 2021 decision has once again held that the enforceability of compulsory retirement clauses in contracts of employment and the concept of employees retiring at 65 or indeed any other age is now fast becoming a thing of the past.

In 2020 the WRC  determined that RTE, in forcing an employee  to retire at 65 in line with RTE’s compulsory retirement age, was discriminating on the grounds of age contrary to the Employment Equality Acts.

The effect of the 2020 decision is that employers now have to ensure that :

  1. the retirement age is clearly specified in an employment contract,
  2. there is a valid objective justification for having a compulsory retirement age, and
  3. the retirement age is consistently applied.

In a 2021 determination the WRC has found that a Nursing Home had made no effort to comply with the Employment Equality Acts when it had informed an employee by letter that she would retire compulsorily in October 2018 upon reaching her 65th. birthday.

The WRC Adjudicator stated in her finding that :

“.. Again, no rationale was provided to show that her compulsory retirement was objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim and necessary to achieve that aim.”

It is therefore critical for employers and employees to understand the implications of these decisions and how they will affect contracts of employment and issues relating to retirement and discrimination on the basis of age in the coming years.

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