It looks as though the UK’s mandatory retirement age of 65 and the duty-to-consider procedure under the Age Regulations are set to stay (at least for now) following the European Court of Justice’s judgment in the Spanish age discrimination case of Palacios v Cortefiel Servicios SA.
The ECJ held that, whilst the European Equal Treatment Directive does apply to legislation on mandatory retirement, the compulsory retirement age contained in the collective agreement in question was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of increasing job opportunities and reducing unemployment. It could therefore be objectively justified and was not precluded by the Directive.
The ECJ’s decision will come as a blow to Heyday (a membership organisation backed by the charity Age Concern) which is arguing that the Age Regulations contravene the Directive by allowing employers to retire employees at or above the age of 65. Even if Heyday continues with its challenge, the case is unlikely to be heard by the ECJ before 2009.