Challenge to Default Retirement Age Suffers Setback

The legal challenge taken to the European Court of Justice by the interest group for older workers, Heyday, against the procedures contained in the new laws on Age Discrimination which allow employers to lawfully require employees to retire at 65 has suffered a significant setback.

Advocate General Jan Mazak has today delivered his opinion on a Spanish case concerning
national laws allowing compulsory retirement. The Advocate General’s finding is that the European
Equal Treatment Directive which required the implementation of the new laws on age discrimination does not apply to the rules of Member States on the setting of retirement ages (rules which he felt were too closely linked to the areas of social and employment policy). The Advocate General went on to state that even if the Directive did apply then such a national law would be justified in any event.

An Advocate General’s decision is not binding on the ECJ but it is likely to be followed. However, the laws on Age Discrimination will be kept under review and the DTI has confirmed that the default retirement age of 65 will be looked at in 2011 regardless of the outcome in Heyday’s case.

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