The Government has announced in its strategy document Building a society for all ages that its review of the default retirement age (currently 65) will be brought forward by a year to 2010. It had been widely anticipated that the Government would abolish the default retirement age in 2011, but the Government has announced that due to “a change in economic circumstances” since the default retirement age was brought in to effect in 2006 it is bringing the review forward.

The default retirement age in the Age Discrimination Regulations is currently subject to a judicial review challenge by Heyday (the National Council for Ageing). Following a reference to the ECJ, both the Advocate General and the ECJ have taken the view that a national rule that permits employers to dismiss employees aged 65 or over for retirement can, in principle, be justified. It is for the national courts to determine whether that rule is, in fact, objectively and reasonably justified. We therefore await the decision of the High Court on this issue.

The consultation on the Government’s strategy document is due to close on 12 October 2009. A summary of the responses to the consultation will be published by the start of December 2009.