Retirement age not unlawful – Heyday decision announced

The default retirement age of 65 is not unlawful but should be scrapped, a judge has ruled in the long-running Heyday legal case.

Mr Justice Blake said the DRA was not unlawful when introduced by the government in 2006, but there was now a “compelling” case given the state of the UK economy for considering whether a retirement age is necessary.

His ruling means the Heyday case brought by charities Age Concern and Help the Aged has been dismissed. It is still legal for UK employers to force workers to retire at the age of 65.

Jon Coley and Linda Jones, partners at Pinsent Masons, say the High Court’s ruling came as a relief to employers defending age claims, but warn that removing the default retirement age would have an impact on youth unemployment levels and that employers still need to prepare for an inevitable change in the law.

He said his ruling took into account the government’s move to bring forward a review of the DRA from 2011 to early next year. 

Hundreds of retirement-related employment tribunal cases, which have been on hold awaiting the outcome of this legal challenge, can now move forward. Tribunals will have to take into account the judge’s observations on the legality of a DRA of 65 in 2009 when considering these cases.

Can employers continue to use a mandatory retirement age? XpertHR has a range of frequently-asked questions in the light of this latest Heyday ruling.

Watch a video debate featuring HR professionals and campaigners on whether the retirement age should be scrapped. Personnel Today has been supporting a campaign to force the government to scrap the DRA. 


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