Having just discussed mandatory retirement and age discrimination at our recent seminar in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin, the issue of age in the workforce continues to hit the headlines. Just a couple of weeks ago, Poland introduced a new piece of legislation which required judges to retire at the age of 65 rather than 70. The result was to force a number of the Supreme Court judges in Poland to retire immediately – although at least one defied the imposition of the younger retirement age. This piece of legislation was considered to be particularly controversial in Poland as it is considered to be an attack on democratic values. Somewhat less controversial is the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Bill 2018 (the “Bill”) which has been published in Ireland, which sets a new compulsory retirement age of 70 for public servants.
The Bill, in its current form, would only apply to those public servants who were recruited before 2004 who currently have a compulsory retirement age of 65. This is partially the case because those who were recruited after 2012 already have a retirement age of 70 under the Single Pension Scheme, and those who were recruited in the interim period between 2004 and 2012 have no compulsory retirement age at all.
The Bill also provides for the Minister to make a future order to increase the retirement age further, up to a maximum age of 70. Before making such an order, the Minister would have to take consideration of the following issues:
- the likely effect of the order on recruitment, promotion and retention of staff in the public service as a whole;
- the pensionable age applicable at the time of making the order;
- any evidence of an increase in normal life expectancy in Ireland;
- the likely cost to the Exchequer that would result from the order; and
- any other matters which the Minister considers appropriate.
If the Bill were to be passed it would not apply to Gardaí, firefighters, prison officers, members of the Defence forces or to any public servants who have no retirement ages (such as TDs). Where there is compulsory retirement in other legislation, then the Bill would not apply to such roles, e.g. for those in the judiciary.
This Bill continues to highlight the issue of age in the workplace, and is a reminder to employers to consider the issue of retirement and the impact it will have on their businesses. Importantly, this legislation may be a way to assist with the issue of a compulsory retirement age for public sector employees currently being set at 65 while the eligibility for the state pension being at 66, which will increase to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.