The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that a provision in Spanish law permitting compulsory retirement at 65 is regulated by the Equal Treatment Directive, which prohibits age discrimination unless objectively justified. Earlier this year, the Advocate General decided that compulsory retirement ages were not covered by the Equal Treatment Directive, as Recital 14 of the Directive expressly states that its provisions are without prejudice to national laws setting out retirement ages. In Palacios v Cortefiel Servicios SA, the ECJ disagreed with this view, but went on to decide that the Spanish retirement provision was objectively justified on the grounds that it furthered an overall objective of reducing unemployment. As it applied only when a worker satisfied the requirements to draw a full pension, it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The case is of interest because of the similar challenge being brought by Heyday to the default retirement age in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. The ECJ’s decision means that the UK government will no longer be able to rely on Recital 14 in support of their defence, though they are likely to succeed in defeating Heyday’s challenge if they are able to establish that the default retirement age of 65 is objectively justified.
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Default retirement age may be legal
- Squire Sanders
- Chris Hubbard and Diane E. Mills
- European Union, Spain
- November 20 2007
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