Guernsey: Default Retirement Age - End Of The Line In The Channel Islands?

Last Updated: 17 August 2011
Article by Emma Parr

Over recent years the default retirement age has been a hotly debated topic both in Guernsey and Jersey.

The Default Retirement Age (DRA) in both islands, for those wanting to retire, is currently 65 (as defined in the Social Insurances (Guernsey) Law, 1978 and the Social Security (Jersey) Law, 1974) irrespective of circumstances. However, with people living longer healthier lives, the islands could see the end of the line for the DRA.

Since 2009, this has been a live issue for Guernsey and never strayed too far from the spotlight. The States of Guernsey have already made their feelings known by openly recommending an increase in the DRA from 65 to 67 in what it considers to be "proper long-term planning" to help fund the Bailiwick's pension scheme.

And it seems that not only is Guernsey facing the debate. Jersey has this week announced it has similar plans, saying that "drastic changes are needed". The States of Jersey agree that people may have to work longer in order to pay higher social security contributions as the current position regarding its state pension scheme "is not sustainable for the long term", with a review indicating that the Social Security Fund could be exhausted in 25 years. To this end, Jersey's politicians have recently voted in favour of legislation which raises the DRA from 65 to 67 by 2031. So is the DRA facing the end of the line?

It would appear that the answer is "yes" - in light of the ongoing debates within the islands, coupled with the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 in the UK, it does seem that the days of the DRA are numbered.

In the UK the DRA, which allowed employers to force employees to retire at 65, is being abolished. The Government bowed to persistent pressure from various age-related charities, which recognised that demographic changes, together with financial, health and social benefits, has necessitated that people work longer. A phasing out of the DRA commenced earlier this year and is set to continue until 1 October 2011; after this date, the DRA will be abolished in the UK in its entirety.

This is effectively good news for UK employees - for the first time, they have a choice whether or not to retire at 65. Not such good news for UK employers - they can continue to set a DRA in a contract of employment and/or staff handbook, but this age must be objectively justified, i.e. showing that their chosen retirement age is "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim". The key to managing successful employer/employee relationships is open communication; managing the needs of a business against the needs of an older individual. The practical effects of the DRA's abolition in the UK will only be seen after October 2011 once various issues come into play. Collas Crill will be monitoring the position closely and provide regular updates on the implications for you and/or your business.

So what does this all mean for the Channel Islands?

Although the islands do not presently have any laws relating to forced retirement, a DRA is usually stipulated in an employee's contract of employment and/or staff handbook. If an employee wishes to retire at 65 then he/she may do so pursuant to the express provisions of their employment. If, however, they wish to continue working beyond that age, then he/she may do so providing it is with the agreement of the employer. It is notable that while age discrimination legislation is on the horizon in Jersey, an "upper age limit" remains in respect of claiming unfair dismissal. Currently an employee is prohibited from claiming unfair dismissal once they are over 65 unless they satisfy certain criteria. In light of the recent move to increase the DRA, it is anticipated that this provision will either be amended, or more likely, removed.

At present, Guernsey has no such "upper age limit"; every employee shall have the right to pursue a claim for unfair dismissal, subject to the relevant qualifying period. It should be noted that this probably means that specified retirement ages in contracts of employment are ineffective if the employee does not want to retire upon attaining the relevant age. In order to avoid an unfair dismissal, the employer can only dismiss the employee for one of the potentially fair reasons specified in the Employment Protection (Guernsey) Law, 1998 (which do not include attaining a particular age) although if an employer were to dismiss an employee pursuant to an express contractual term specifying a compulsory retirement age then the tribunal may have some sympathy and may exercise its discretion to reduce any award it would otherwise make.

In any event, increasing the DRA for receipt of States pensions is unlikely to be welcome news for Islanders; the prospect of working even longer just to ensure that they have a financially healthy retirement will seem, to some, as an unreasonable turn of events. But that said, it is very hard to see that there is any real alternative given the increases in life expectancy and pressures on public spending. It is a simple fact that the average worker's retirement is likely to be longer than ever before - how else will that be paid for?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.