As many people over the age of 65 have discovered to their chagrin in recent years, retirement is a form of dismissal and not always voluntary. Currently, under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, employers can require all staff to retire at 65, or the employer's normal retirement age, regardless of their circumstances, so long as they follow the correct procedure.
This means an employer must give an employee at least six months' notice of retirement. If the employee serves notice that he or she wants to continue working past retirement, the employer must consider the application.
Employers are certainly not obliged to retire employees as soon as they reach 65 or the company's normal retirement age.
If an employer retires an employee before they reach 65 or the normal retirement age, and/or fails to follow the correct retirement procedure, the employee may lodge a claim for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Heyday Challenge & DWP Review of Regulations
A majority of people retire before 65. However, 1.3 million people choose to work beyond state pension age, and many more say they would work past 65 if their employer permitted it.
Consequently, in 2006, the National Council on Ageing began a legal challenge against the default retirement age (DRA), arguing it contravenes European law. This case has become known as the Heyday challenge. The High Court is expected to rule on it later this summer or in the autumn.
Moreover, on 13 July, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced it is bringing forward a review of the DRA from 2011 to 2010.
So watch this space...
[Note: on 30 September 2009 - a month after this blog was first published - the High Court ruled the DRA is lawful. The DWP still intends to carry out a review of the DRA, however, and has already launched a public consultation.]
** Additional Information & Advice **
Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be better to speak
with a solicitor who specialises in employment law. You can be matched with an
employment law solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching
services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for
your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.