The High Court has referred a legal challenge to the mandatory retirement age to the European Court of Justice.
Heyday, the membership organisation for older people that brought the action, welcomed the decision.
The group argues that forcing workers to retire at 65 – the mandatory age introduced by the age discrimination regulations – leaves them without the right or choice to work.
In an unusual move, the government’s lawyers did not contest Heyday’s proposal that a reference should be made to the European Court.
Heyday argued that its action to overturn the government’s legislation on forced retirement would turn on the interpretation of European law, so could only be finally resolved by the European Court of Justice.
Ailsa Ogilvie, director of Heyday, said: “The referral of our case to the European Court of Justice is recognition of the importance of our legal challenge and we welcome the opportunity to seek a definitive ruling.
“The prompt reference to the European Court of Justice means that we will achieve the earliest possible resolution on behalf of the tens of thousands of workers who are forced into retirement each year.”
If the European Court of Justice rules that the UK’s age laws do not fully implement the European Directive outlawing age discrimination, the government would be forced to amend the legislation to give over-65s the same protection as younger workers.