Heyday retirement age case unlikely to be resolved by ECJ, warns expert

An estimated 800 cases are awaiting the final Heyday decision on whether employers can lawfully force people to retire at the age of 65, but they will have to wait a little longer than next Thursday, according to an employment lawyer.

Selwyn Blyth, senior associate at law firm Pinsent Masons, told Personnel Today the European Court of Justice Heyday case scheduled on Thursday (5 February) is unlikely to discuss the specific question of whether a default retirement age is objectively justified.

Instead the ECJ will clarify policy within the EU directive upon which age regulations are based, for example, whether employer should list specific reasons behind their “legitimate business aim” for the discriminatory policy, such as succession planning.

“The ECJ case will be frustrating for HR as Heyday did not refer the specific question of whether or not default retirement age is objectively justified,” Blythe said.

The case will be referred up to the High Court within months, however. Blythe said: “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.”

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

Sign the petition on the Downing Street website.

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