22.07.11

ECJ Ruling Opens Pandora's Box on Retirement Justification

Although the UK Government has abolished the Default Retirement Age which gave employers the right to retire their employees when they reached the age of 65, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently handed down a decision which appears to provide employers with some wriggle room on possible objective justifications for compulsory retirements.

In its consideration of the Fuchs v Land Hessen case, the ECJ was asked to decide whether keeping costs down could be a relevant factor when deciding whether a compulsory retirement age could be objectively justified. Gerhard Fuchs was a state prosecutor in the German state of Hessen who was compelled to retire when he reached the age of 65.

Considering the case, the ECJ decided that a German law requiring state prosecutors to retire at 65 on a generous pension was justified - subject to some exceptions.

Its ruling also appears to hold that a retirement age can potentially be justified to encourage the promotion of a younger workforce. But more controversially, it suggested that it is legitimate to retire older workers to prevent possible disputes concerning employees’ fitness to work beyond a certain age.

See TAEN’s press release.

 

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