Mandatory Retirement Age Discriminatory

A female employee who was contrary to a male employee in the same situation, not allowed to work past the age of 67 years, after been offered two 12 month fixed term contracts past the Company’s retirement age of 65 years, was held to have been discriminated against on grounds of both age and gender and awarded one year’s pay.

The second contract was offered to her at a rate of pay that was 20% less, unlike her male colleague who did not have to take a reduction in pay, and when the Complainant indicated she wished to continue working she was refused. The male comparator did not continue to work past 67 years but it was not confirmed that he would not have been allowed to.

The female employee had been employed for over 30 years from 1988 until 2020, with a retirement age of 65 years introduced in 2010 in the employee handbook, but with no objective justification outlined for it’s introduction. In practice the Company then had a rule of thumb that staff could work for two years past retirement age.

The Adjudicator determined that the Company had not objectively justified its retirement age as required to by law, and awarded 26 weeks pay for discrimination on grounds of age. A further 26 weeks pay was awarded for discrimination on grounds of gender as the male comparator did not have to take a pay cut (even though it was a self employed arrangement) and he was also not told that he would be refused a further extension to his employment. (Ref ADJ-00029859)

This case one again highlights the need for employers to ensure that their retirement ages are objectively and reasonably justified. In addition it is important that extensions granted to work past retirement age should not become the norm, and should be dealt with on a case by case basis.