Compulsory retirement age must be addressed

Issued 22 March 2018

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for the Government to publish the planned legislation abolishing the mandatory retirement age in the public sector, and to address similar issues for private sector workers who wish to continue working past the age of 65.

Deputy Howlin raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, following the ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission yesterday in favour of an RTÉ worker who took a case against her employer on the grounds of age discrimination.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Yesterday’s decision at the Workplace Relations Commission that found RTÉ had discriminated against former employee and journalist Valerie Cox on age grounds was a landmark one.

“There are many people working in both the public and private sectors who for whatever reason do not wish to retire at the age of 65, and are more than capable of continuing on and making a valuable contribution to the workforce for another few years.

“As a nation we are thankfully living longer and healthier lives, and our employment legislation should reflect that.

“Last December, Cabinet approved legislation to raise the mandatory age to 70, which needs to be progressed as quickly as possible to provide certainty to those workers who are now approaching the age of 65,

“The current arrangements, which are being implemented on an interim or ad hoc basis, pending the passage of legislation are neither attractive nor rewarding.

“Workers in the private sector are also facing similar issues, with many contracts including similar provisions for a mandatory retirement age. The Citizens Assembly recommended in July 2017 that mandatory retirement ages be abolished and it's time the Government now acted to make it a reality.

"It isn't sufficient to just address the problems faced by public sector workers, and the Government should ensure the proposed legislation would end the use of similar provisions in private employment contracts.

"For those who want to work we need to ensure their rights are protected in law."