Heyday decision – ECJ sends retirement age case back to UK High Court

A decision in the Heyday case on whether employers can lawfully force people to retire at the age of 65 has been thrown back to the UK High Court.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has clarified policy in the EU directive upon which age regulations are based, for example, whether employers should list specific reasons behind their “legitimate business aim” for the discriminatory policy, such as succession planning.

In its decision, the ECJ said social policy objectives, “such as those related to employment policy and the labour market”, may be considered ‘legitimate’ under the EU directive.

The court ruled that “it is for the national court to ascertain whether the UK legislation reflects such a legitimate aim and, second, whether the means chosen were appropriate and necessary to achieve it”.

Selwyn Blyth, senior associate at law firm Pinsent Masons, said the case would now be referred up to the High Court within months.

“The way the wind is blowing, the wording in the directive will be clarified to mean the government is entitled to use the default retirement age,” he said.

An estimated 800 age discrimination tribunal cases are awaiting the final Heyday decision.

The government has said it will review the default retirement age in 2011. Personnel Today is calling on the government to commit to reviewing it sooner.

Sign the petition on the Downing Street website.

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