One of our partners, Katy Meves, was recently asked to answer this questions for the member publication for ICAEW chartered accountants, Economia. But, whether an employer can set a retirement age for its staff and essentially force people to retire is a question which is relevant to everyone, not just accountants!
What’s the answer?
It’s an area which has been subject to change so there can be confusion about the answer. Frustratingly, the position will depend upon the circumstances but, the short answer is that in most cases, most employers can no longer dismiss someone simply because they have reached a certain age. As with all the best legal questions, there are exceptions!
If you have been employed by your employer for a long time, you may have an employment contract which does specify a retirement age, as this used to be a standard clause in contracts. However, even if your employer hasn’t got around to amending these old terms, it is unlikely that they will seek to rely upon them as this could result in claims for unfair dismissal and age discrimination. If in doubt, seek clarification from your employer as to what their current retirement policy is.
It’s also worth pointing out that retirement ages for jobs are entirely unrelated, in a legal sense, to pension ages for pension schemes or the state pension age. While the age at which you can draw your pension may have a practical impact on when you wish to stop working, there is no link between this and whether your employer can dismiss you.
Katy’s article was published online in October 2018 and you can read it here.