Can you force an employee to retire at 65? For now the answer is still yes. However, in his comments on a recent landmark case Mr Justice Blake commented that if the decision was being made today to set a Default Retirement Age (DRA) he did not beleive that it would be set at age 65.
These comments were made about the DRA that was set in October 2006 following a recent case in the UK High Court. The case involved a challenge by Age Concern and Help the Aged who contended that a mandatory retirement age that allows employers to force employees to retire irrespective of whether they are fit, willing and able to continue working allowed discrimination based on age. The current system is that employees approaching retiremnet age can request to continue working after 65 but employers are not compelled to accept or indeed provide reasons for refusing.
The challenge to the legislation, which was introduced in October 2006 and which allows employers to end the employment of anyone aged 65 or over without compensation or the risk of a claim for unfair treatment provided the correct procedures are observed, was brought by charities Age Concern and Help the Aged.
The UK High Court case came after an earlier European Court of Justice ruling confirmed that under the EU's Equal Treatment at Work Directive the DRA was acceptable.
Mr Justice Blake also went on to say that his ruling may have been different had the government not announced that it was bringing forward the review of the DRA to next year. Following compelling arguments made in the case he commented that it was difficult to see how the DRA could remain at 65 following the review next year.