The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 made it illegal for employers to force employees to retire below the age of 65 – but this left employees over the age 65 exposed to discrimination.
Age Concern issued judicial review proceedings against the UK Government and argued that this was unlawful as the EU Directive prohibits age discrimination. The Advocate General’s view was that the compulsory retirement age of 65 was potentially discriminatory but could fall within the exception in the Directive that allows member states to set a national retirement age. In effect the UK Regulations set such a retirement age by default. However the law must be objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the means of achieving this aim must be appropriate and necessary.
The case will now continue to the ECJ where the view of the Advocate General will be persuasive.
Incorporated Trustees of the National Council on Ageing (Age Concern England) v Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform