The Interdepartmental Group on Fuller Worker Lives has published
their Report on policies around retirement age in both the public
and private sectors. It makes for difficult reading for those of us
who dream of setting sail for the Bahamas in a yacht (purchased
with our retirement lump sum!) once we hit 65. It appears that a
lot of us may now be spending the twilight of our lives helping to
build those yachts as opposed to sailing in them!
The establishment of the Interdepartmental Group on Fuller
Working Lives (the "Group") was a
response to the fundamental fact that people are now living longer,
and the demographic pressures associated with an ageing
In its Report, the Group identified a set of framework
principles and recommendations to guide policy makers in this area.
Overall, the Report makes for difficult reading for those of us who
dream of setting sail for the Bahamas in a yacht when we hit
Currently, State expenditure on pensions and relevant
supplementary payments amounts to €7 billion. This amount is
anticipated to rise to €8.7 billion in 2026, notwithstanding
the rise in age of eligibility for the State Pension increasing to
67 in 2021. The age of eligibility will rise further to 68 in
The Report discusses current practice in relation to retirement
age, highlighting that there is no statutory retirement age for
private sector employees. It is possible for an employer to specify
a compulsory retirement age, where they have reasonable and
proportionate grounds for doing so. The subject of mandatory
retirement age is explained in more detail in a
recent article published by our
Policy Framework Principles
The Group developed a set of broad principles in order to
encourage individuals to remain in employment beyond what is
currently considered to be the normal retirement age. These
an acceptance in society that longer working is not only
possible, but also necessary so as to adjust with the increase in
age for eligibility for the State Pension;
facilitating workers, insofar as possible, with the option to
work beyond normal retirement age, having regard to certainty and
flexibility in relation to workforce planning;
providing older workers with appropriate support and training.
Additional fixed term employment contracts should be fair, with the
terms and conditions of the previous contract of employment taken
into consideration; and
social welfare will continue to provide a safety net for those
who are not in a position to work longer.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will request
that the Workplace Relations Commission develop a Code of Practice
in relation to longer working.
Employers should ensure that they have a clear policy on
retirement in place, which has been communicated to employees.
Awareness should be raised by employers and worker representatives
of the practicalities working for longer. These issues should
include tax treatment and retirement income, incentives to remain
in work, training and employment opportunities, etc.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will review
issues which may render longer working lives unappealing, such as
the current and planned age of entitlement to the Contributory
The Department of Justice & Equality will ask the Irish
Human Rights and Equality Commission to ensure that appropriate
guidance material is made available for employers on the use of
fixed term contracts beyond normal retirement age.
The Department of Education and Skills will request SOLAS and
the Education and Training Boards, in the context of the National
Skills Strategy, to support older workers remaining in the
workforce by providing them with training opportunities.
The ability to maintain longer working lives is to be commended
where the employee concerned is willing and able to continue to
work. It should be remembered that by working longer we are
reducing dependence upon the State Pension and increasing the tax
intake. It is in the State's interest that we all work for as
long as we can.
But we must not lose sight of what is in the individual's
best interest. Surely a happy and fulfilling period of retirement
is equally as important as a productive and enjoyable working life?
We must be careful to get the balance right and the Report suggests
a shifting of the scales is ahead for us all.
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.
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