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Mandatory retirement at 65 challenged in high court December 5, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in age, Age Discrimination, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, EU, racism and discrimination, Retire, UK.

A high court challenge this week to new age discrimination laws could force the government to scrap the mandatory retirement age of 65 and give employees the right to work on into their late 60s or even 70s.Heyday, Age Concern’s membership organisation, argues that in keeping the retirement age, the government has failed to properly implement the EU’s equal treatment directive by denying people over 65 the right to choose to go on working.

The rules, which came into force on October 1, ban discrimination at work on grounds of age. Nobody can be forced to retire under 65 without a good reason. But while workers may request to stay on and employers must consider their requests in good faith, there is nothing to stop bosses insisting on retirement at 65.

In a two-day hearing starting on Wednesday, Heyday will argue that the mandatory retirement age should be banned unless employers can justify it. “Heyday believes that by excluding people over 65 from protection the government has failed to implement the directive correctly, in breach of their obligations under European law,” said a spokesman. The high court could decide to refer the issue to the European court of justice in Luxembourg, where a similar case from Spain is awaiting judgment.

Tricia Davies, who turned 65 on October 7, six days after the rules came into force, was told two days before her official retirement date that she would not be allowed to stay on at Worcestershire county council, where she had an administrative job. Her husband, Peter, eight years younger, who also works for the council, has no plans to retire in the near future, and she had hoped to carry on working for another five years or so.

“The reason that was given was that the administration in our department was being reviewed and I would not be replaced. I was happy to go to any department – I was very flexible. But my choice was taken away,” she said. “Suddenly, by becoming 65, I was a non-person. It was quite like a bereavement. I’d lost all my colleagues. It’s that horrible feeling of not being wanted; you’re no use to anybody because you’re old. I don’t feel old.”

Two weeks later she got a job as a temp through an agency, earning roughly £1.50 an hour less than at the council. “Half a dozen people went for interview. I was the oldest and I got it.” The council, she pointed out, also employs temps “and they’re paying them a lot more, because they’ve got to pay the agency as well, than they would have been paying me.”

The government says it wants to encourage more people to work on past 65 and has promised to review the mandatory retirement age in five years. But Heyday’s action, if successful, could force it to be scrapped much sooner.

In the US, with limited exceptions, no one can be made to retire at any age without a good reason.

 C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Guardian Unlimited

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