As of 1 January 2014, the qualifying age for the State pension increased from 65 to 66 years.  This marks the first increase in the qualifying age since 1970.  The qualifying age is set to increase again from 66 to 67 from 1 January 2021, with a further increase to 68 from 1 January 2028.  The rationale for these changes is to ensure the future sustainability of the pensions system.

Whilst there is no statutory retirement age in Ireland, the retirement age in operation in many workplaces is aligned with the state pension qualifying age, which has traditionally been 65. Therefore, those who now retire at 65 will not be entitled to access their State pension until they reach the increased qualifying age (although they may still be entitled to a Jobseeker’s payment). For this reason, it is very likely that the increase in the State pension age will result in requests from employees to work beyond age 65 in order to avoid being without an income until they reach the qualifying age.  

There has already been a steady stream of cases in recent years in which employees have resisted compulsory retirement on grounds of age discrimination and in light of these changes to the State pension age, this trend is likely to continue.