Age of retirement in Ireland
In Ireland, there is no official age of retirement.
Ages of retirement must be included in a worker’s contract of employment, usually in the form of a clause.
If an employer wants to include a mandatory retirement clause in their contracts, it must have a legitimate aim within the company. Retiring an employee because of age alone is grounds for discrimination under the Employment Equality Act.
Many sectors of employment have laid out an age of retirement in their contract as 65 years of age. Some sectors, such as the Garda Síochána, have mandatory ages of retirement, required by law.
Can I be forced to retire?
Under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977, an employee dismissed when they reach the normal age of retirement in that sector would not be an unfair dismissal. It could, however, still be discriminatory under the Equality Act.
When an employer wants to dismiss an employee before the age of retirement, they must have a legitimate aim. A legitimate aim is a reason other than just age to retire that employee.
Legitimate aims include allowing younger workers to progress, creation of a balanced age structure, and health and safety.
It must also be shown that dismissing an older employee is objectively justifiable to achieve that aim. For example, retiring a worker due to health and safety concerns in a desk job environment would be considered unnecessarily harsh, therefore no longer objectively justified.
What if I want to work longer?
If an employee wishes to continue working past their contracted retirement age, they should submit a request in writing no less than 3 months before the date of retirement in order to discuss it with the employer.
An employer can then choose if they want to dismiss that employee or continue their employment under a fixed-term or indefinite contract.
If an employer wants to offer a fixed-term contract to an employee of retirement age, it shall be objectively justifiable by a legitimate aim. For example, allowing an employee to finish a project that they were working on.
What can I do if I’m forced to retire?
Complaints surrounding discrimination are dealt with by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Submitting a complaint will result in mediation; if that fails or is not availed of arbitration will take place.
When entering a complaint under grounds of forced retirement, a submission shall be made within 6 months of the date of the grievance occurring, or where multiple grievances occur, the date of the last grievance.
Setanta solicitors can consult on matters related to employment and discrimination.