The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) advocate general has ruled against the Heyday challenge to the UK’s compulsory retirement age of 65.
Although not binding, the advocate general’s opinion may be an indication of the European Court of Justice’s decision, expected in December. The legal challenge was launched by Heyday, a spin-off of the charity Age Concern.
According to the Employment Tribunals Service, about 260 cases in England, Scotland and Wales are awaiting a ruling on whether forcing workers to retire at 65 is unlawful.
The CBI has argued that a normal retirement age of 65 is an essential management tool, and that employees have the right to ask to work beyond that age.
Employers have a duty to consider such requests, and the CBI has said that the system has proved to be a success.
Heyday director Ailsa Olgive said that the current rules were costing good workers their jobs.
Marian Bloodworth, senior associate at law firm Lovells, said the decision does not help employers.
“In the current difficult economic climate, employers need a degree of certainty, and will not welcome the additional delay while they await the final outcome of the case,” he said . “Many may feel that they need to stick with the current retirement age, to ensure, among other things, that they retain the services of employees keen for promotion to the jobs currently held by those facing retirement.”
“At the back of their minds will be the prospect of expensive and time-consuming claims from retired employees should the UK courts find in due course that the government cannot justify the retirement age of 65. Employers may therefore feel more comfortable allowing employees to work beyond retirement age by making use of the ‘right to request’ regime.”
In this clip, Pinsent Masons employment lawyer says that you “can’t bank on the ECJ following the advocate general’s opinion and until we get a final decision in this case the stakes remain high”.