The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently decided that a mandatory retirement age of 65 was acceptable in the case of a former partner of a law firm. The full text of the decision is here.
The case before the EAT related to a former partner of a law firm named Mr Seldon. He was forced to retire from the firm at the age of 65. This retirement age was set out in a partnership agreement between the partners of the firm. Mr Seldon made a claim of direct age discrimination when he was made to retire. The case has taken quite some time to resolve however it was eventually decided that the mandatory retirement age of 65 was capable of ‘objective justification’. Consequently, the retirement age was lawful.
The Courts will look at individual circumstances in isolation. Some employers may not be justified in enforcing a mandatory retirement age of 65. For the majority of employers however, the age of 65 will probably serve as a suitable benchmark for retirement. Employers will need to ensure that their employment contracts reflect the position regarding retirement age within their organisation and that any such provisions do not infringe discrimination laws. This can sometimes prove to be challenging given the constantly shifting state of the law and the gradual tightening of discrimination laws. Employers should be mindful that all employees should be treated equally and provided with the same opportunities regardless of race, gender, age, disability (or any other protected characteristic that an employee may have). This equality of treatment extends to the terms and conditions of employment that employees are given so it is very important that no individual or group of employees is put to any disadvantage.
We appreciate that discrimination laws can be daunting. If you require any further information on this or any other aspect of employment law, please get in touch with us at 23 Legal.