Until recently for most employees approaching 65 years of age the spectre of retirement loomed whether it was welcomed or not. However in recent years and for many reasons, including enduring physical and mental vitality and indeed continuing financial obligations, the concept of retirement and particularly compulsory retirement has come under the spotlight in employment law.
As a result employees faced with the prospect of compulsory retirement have challenged the provisions relating to retirement even if the such provisions were originally contained within their contract of employment and/or the employee was made fully aware of the compulsory retirement age within their company.
In a recent case relating to the compulsory retirement of an employee the employer submitted to the Workplace Relation Commission [ W.R..C ] that in view of its health and safety obligations it considered 65 to be a reasonable age to impose for retirement. The employee, who had sought an extension which would have allowed him to remain at work, gave evidence that he would have been capable of continuing to work at 66 because he had passed tests at his regular health clinics.
In her decision the WRC Adjudicator held that the employer i“ ..did not request any medical, risk or operational assessments of the complainant in his day to day role” and ultimately that the employee had been treated less favourably on age grounds when he sought to extend his tenure from his 65th. birthday.
However in hearing a previous application to the Labour Court it held that :
“The Court notes the undisputed evidence concerning the nature of the job, the fact that it is safety-critical, the training period required to qualify service engineers, the investment required by the Respondent in terms of training apprentices to the standard they required. Taking account of all of these issues the Court is satisfied that a mandatory retirement age of 65 for service engineers in this employment is objectively and reasonably justified.”
In the circumstances, for employers and employees , the issue of retirement within the workplace must now be objectively and reasonably justified and assessed.
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