There has been a deluge of claims in the WRC regarding the unfair termination of employment due to age.
In January of this year, RTE were ordered to pay a former senior TV producer €100,000 after forcing her to retire at 65. It was noted that her contract was silent on the issue of retiring.
In May of this year, an oil company was ordered to pay an Operations Manager €25,000 for ‘retiring’ him against his wishes on his 67th birthday. The company argued that the decision had been made on health and safety grounds, intergenerational fairness and success planning. However, the Adjudicator found that these considerations had not been clearly advanced to the complainant at the time of retirement. The company had been unable to put any objective justification or economic grounds to the complainant.
In June of this year, Focus Ireland, was ordered to pay a 68 year old mediator €22,000 for ‘retiring’ him at the age of 66. The Commission found that while Focus Ireland had genuine aims relating to fitness to work that the use of age alone was not appropriate or necessary. By only looking at the complainant’s age Focus Ireland was found to have flagrantly breached of the Employment Equality Act.
What should employers be checking for:
- Does your contract refer to a retirement age?
- Why do you need a retirement age? You should be able to give objective reasons for this e.g. health and safety, fitness and succession planning.
- Is your retirement age fair?
- Can you have flexible retirement ages?
- Have you a retirement policy that takes time to meet with the employee and discuss the matters properly as the retirement age gets closer?
We can all appreciate the fact that we are stronger and more capable at 65 than any other time in history. To this end 65 doesn’t represent the line in the sand that it might once have. If ESA can help you prepare a retirement age policy please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01 8774608 or [email protected]