Call for 'discriminatory' mandatory retirement age to be abolished

A bill to remove the retirement age clause has stalled since the election

Call for 'discriminatory' mandatory retirement age to be abolished

Justin Moran of Age Action | Image: RollingNews.ie

One group for older people is calling for the abolition of mandatory retirement.

Age Action claims it forces workers out of their job every year because of their age.

In a new briefing paper, it points out that a bill to abolish mandatory retirement drew all-party support in the Oireachtas last year - but has been stalled since the general election.

In 2014, Deputy Anne Ferris introduced the Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill.

This would abolish mandatory retirement ages in Ireland for people who are able and willing to continue working.

It includes a number of exceptions for professions related to security, such as An Garda Síochána, or public safety, such as the fire service.

The Bill passed second stage in the Dáil on October 9th 2015 and was referred to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

The committee held hearings and published a report expressing unanimous support for the legislation.

Age Action is urging TDs and senators of all parties to work together to bring the legislation forward.

"Why should they be forced out?"

Justin Moran, head of advocacy at Age Action, said: "Mandatory retirement is simply age discrimination, forcing someone out of a job because they've reached some arbitrary age set by their employer.

"People retiring today are expected, on average, to live 20 years or more. The number of people aged over 65 is going to almost treble in the next 30 years."

"If someone wants to work and can do the job, why should they be forced out because they turn 65?".

European Union employment law forbids discrimination on the basis of age - but Age Action says a loophole allows member states to treat workers differently if justified by a 'legitimate aim'.

"Courts have found that examples of a 'legitimate aim' can include forcing older workers onto the dole to make room for younger unemployed even though the evidence shows this does not lead to increased employment for younger people.", Mr Moran said.

"Those countries with high rates of employment for older workers are also typically those with similar rates for young people.

"Government policy is to support longer working lives, to enable those who wish to work a little longer to do so, to value their contribution and their experience. But in practice, employers are permitted to get rid of older workers for no other reason than they turn 65", he added.