UK: UK Retirement Age Of 65 “Is” Lawful

Last Updated: 30 September 2009
Article by Karen McGill and Katy Wedderburn

As our readers will be aware, Age Concern England (now "Age UK"), challenged UK law to the extent that it allows employers to compel workers to retire at 65, on the basis that to allow this is inconsistent with the EU Equal Treatment Framework Directive and is age discrimination.

Back in March, the European Court of Justice ruled that a designated retirement age ("DRA") of 65 was capable of being objectively justified (see our e-update).  The case returned to the High Court, which has now ruled that the DRA is lawful, the UK having succeeded in objectively justifying it as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.  The question is, for how long...

The Court ruled that the government had proved that a DRA achieved legitimate social policy aims such as securing the integrity of the labour market and its short-term competiveness.  As to proportionality, the Court considered both (i) the adoption of a DRA and (ii) the adoption of age 65 as the DRA.  In relation to (i), the Court, for example, contrasted the use of a DRA with a mandatory retirement age. Whilst the latter affords no discretion to either employee or employer, a DRA does not require an employer to dismiss on grounds of age/retirement but merely enables it to do so lawfully when that age is reached.  In the circumstances, the Court did not consider this to be a disproportionate way of giving effect to the social aim of labour market confidence.

With regard to (ii), the Court recognised that there were powerful reasons why a DRA higher than 65 could have been adopted, such as, creating a cultural change in relation to age discrimination and retirement.  In addition, the Court commented that a DRA of 65 seemed "particularly odd" in light of the government's intention to increase  pensionable age to 68 in the future and recognised that the use of, for example, age 68 as the DRA would not have undermined or diminished any of the government's objectives in adopting a DRA at all.

However, the Court also had regard to the fact that a DRA of 65 had the support of the preponderance of consultees in the consultations on the Regulations and continuing practice elsewhere in the EU.  In addition, no one was making a case for age 68 and the case for age 70 had commanded little popular support in the consultations.  Finally, an appropriate margin of discretion had to be afforded to the government in the selection of a DRA.  The Court therefore concluded that setting the DRA at 65 was within the competence of the government in implementing the Directive and was not void.

Interestingly, the Court placed importance on the fact that the case had to be considered on the basis of when the Regulations came into force, i.e. 2006 and not now and also that a review of the Regulations was imminent.  The Court indicated that if a DRA of 65 had been introduced in 2009, it would not have found it to be proportionate, since it "creates greater discriminatory effect than is necessary on a class of people who both are able to and want to continue in their employment.  A higher age would not have any general detrimental labour market consequences or block access to high level jobs by future generations.  If the selection of age 65 is not necessary it cannot therefore be justified..."

Save for one reference to the "changed economic circumstances", it is not entirely clear, however, why this reasoning would not have applied in 2006 to render a DRA of 65 disproportionate.

In any event, the decision confirms that employers can lawfully retire employees at age 65, provided this is done in accordance with the statutory retirement procedure and means that the numerous employment tribunal claims which have been sisted, pending the outcome of this case, are likely to be dismissed.  The DRA is, however, to be reviewed in 2010 and is unlikely to remain at 65, if at all, in light of Mr Justice Blake's view that:  "in the light of changed economic circumstances and the generally recognised problems that a longer living population creates for the social security system, the case for advancing the DRA beyond the minimum age of 65 at least would seem to be compelling."  He went on to say that he could not "presently see how 65 could remain as a DRA after the review".

To assist our clients in complying with the statutory retirement procedures, we have a package that includes style letters and a unique software product that helps you plan when retirement notices require to be issued and the last date for employees to make requests to continue working, updates you on forthcoming retirements and maps how this affects your employee age profile. All you have to do is enter staff dates of birth.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this article is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

© MacRoberts 2009

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

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

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

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 Mondaq.com’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.

Disclaimer

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.

Registration

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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

Cookies

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.

Links

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.

Mail-A-Friend

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.

Security

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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

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