Heyday retirement age decision “hugely disappointing” for staff

The legal advice to keep the default retirement age of 65 is “hugely disappointing” for employees and a step backwards for preventing age discrimination, according to the TUC.

The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) advocate-general yesterday 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 ECJ’s decision, expected in December.

The legal challenge was launched by Heyday, a spin-off of the charity Age Concern.

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The recommendation of the advocate-general will be hugely disappointing for the many employees who want to, or need to, continue to work beyond retirement age.

“It makes no sense that we have laws in the UK that aim to remove age discrimination, but include a get-out clause for employers who want to kick people out when they reach 65, regardless of whether or not they are doing their job well.”

The age discrimination law was introduced in October 2006. According to the Employment Tribunal Service, about 260 cases in England, Scotland and Wales are awaiting a ruling on whether forcing workers to retire at 65 is unlawful.

Opinion among employment lawyers and other experts differs as to how far-reaching the Age Concern-Heyday decision is.

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