Enforced Retirement by Employers if deemed in the ‘public interest’
A Court ruling on Wednesday has opened up a huge debate of whether a firm can enforce a retirement policy if deemed as a ‘public interest’. The case between a City Law firm and an employee has created fear and doubts in he minds of many people across the nation and has sparked a huge debate.
The City Law firm’s policy of forcing partners to retire at the age of 65 years to ‘make way’ for younger employees was upheld in the ruling.
The judgment stated that where the reasons for retiring someone met “public policy” objectives it was acceptable to force someone to leave the business.
Many will disagree that age is not cause for forcing retirement but others do suggest that the ruling is logical; If a person is an ‘up and coming star’ then they should have the ability to develop within the ranks of the employer OR the employer will stand to have their business affected by the exit of a valued asset of the business, which in effect will detriment the business.
At a time of high youth unemployment, it is in the public interest for older staff to leave to open up jobs for younger people, the judgment signalled.
Lady Hale, said: “Improving the recruitment of young people, in order to achieve a balanced and diverse workforce, is in principle a legitimate aim. But if there is in fact no problem in recruiting the young and the problem is in retaining the older and more experienced workers then it may not be a legitimate aim for the business concerned.”
Tom Flanagan, partner at Irwin Mitchell, which represented Age UK in the Supreme Court, said it was not acceptable simply for an employer to say it wished to retire older workers on the grounds of cost – it being too expensive to keep over-65s at work – because there was no real public interest argument in that case.
However, if an employer combined cost and promoting younger staff as the two main reasons for a retirement age, there was nothing in theory stopping them from implementing forced retirement, he said
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