Fixing Retirement Ages

Employees cannot be discriminated against based on their age. This is prohibited by the Equality Acts.

People do have to retire at some stage though, so what can employers do to avoid a claim of discrimination when considering retiring an employee ?.

fixing retirement ages

Employers can set different ages for retirement of employees which will not amount to discrimination, however, there is a big but.

The employer’s decision to retire an employee must have been objectively and reasonably justified and based on a legitimate aim. Also, the means of achieving any legitimate aim must have been appropriate and necessary.

There is going to be many more cases of this nature with people living longer now and wanting or needing to work longer.

It is important for employers to review what it states in the Employee’s Staff Manual / work policies about retirement. This is also true of the employee’s contract.

  • When does it state the person will be notified they will be required to retire in the staff manual ?.
  • When does it state an employer makes this decision ?.
  • Is the staff manual or employment contract definitive on any compulsory retirement timeline, or does it state that a decision will be made at the time ie coming up to the retirement date ?. The precise wording is very important. If there is no reference in the employees contract to a compulsory retirement date, or if there is no reference in a staff handbook to a compulsory retirement date, the employer will have a task to provide persuasive evidence that there was objective justification based on a legitimate aim in respect of the decision to dismiss the employee.

The Code of Practice on Longer Working Order of 2017 can give employers and employees alike guidance steps to follow when this issue arises at work which should should be read and followed.


Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.

Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.  

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article. 

Employment Law Articles

Roger Cleary

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