The ECJ has held that a compulsory retirement age of 65, although discriminatory on the grounds of age, can be justified if:

  • The employment contract has been collectively negotiated with a union.
  • The employee will receive a pension so that they have replacement income.
  • Compulsory retirement has been in widespread use in the relevant country for a long time without having had any effect on the levels of employment.

The standard retirement age of 65, fixed by collective agreement and backed by national legislation, could be justified by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market.

This may have consequences for employers seeking to justify a compulsory retirement age from October 2011, when it is proposed that the default retirement age of 65 will be abolished. However the ECJ's decision could be distinguished on the facts, given that the compulsory retirement age in the case was backed by statute, which may not be the case in the UK if the default retirement age is abolished entirely.

Rosenbladt v Oellerking Gebäudereinigungsgesellschaft mBh