Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Billy Kelleher (Minister of State with special responsibility for Labour Affairs, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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There is no provision in employment rights legislation imposing a compulsory retirement age in relation to employment in the private sector. The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, among other things, protect against discrimination on the ground of age in relation to access to employment. However, Section 34(4) of the Employment Equality Act 1998 allows an employer to include a specific retirement age in a contract of employment without being in breach of the age-discrimination provisions of the above-mentioned equality legislation.
The upper age limit of 66 years for bringing claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 was removed by the Equality Act 2004. However, the Unfair Dismissals Acts continue to exclude from their jurisdiction employees who have reached the "normal retiring age" for the particular employment in which they are employed. The "normal retiring age" in this context tends to be the age at which there has been a custom and practice for employees to retire at in a particular employment.
In some employments, a "normal retiring age" will exist for that particular employment only, in order to give flexibility to employers and employees, having due regard to the nature of the work being performed.
I should also mention that the upper age limit of 66 for receipt of statutory redundancy payments was removed earlier this year by the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Act 2007.
With effect from 1 April, 2004, it is not compulsory for most new entrants to the public service to retire at a particular age if they are fit and willing to remain in employment. The existing retirement conditions, in agreement with the relevant unions, have been retained for existing employees.
The recently-published Green Paper on Pensions examines issues surrounding retirement age and work flexibility in the context of developing a framework for future pensions policy.