Currently, under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, employers can require all staff to retire at 65 - the default retirement age ('DRA') - regardless of their circumstances and even if they don't want to retire, so long as they follow the correct procedure.
1.4 million people choose to work beyond 65, however, and many more would like to carry on working, but are prevented from doing so by their employers.
In 2006, the National Council on Aging began a legal challenge against the DRA, arguing it contravenes European law. This case became known as the Heyday challenge. Last week, this challenge came to an end in the High Court, which ruled the DRA of 65 is lawful.
In coming to this conclusion, Mr. Justice Blake said that if it "had been adopted for the first time in 2009Ç or there had been no indication of an imminent [government] review [of the DRA] Ç I would have concluded ... that the selection of age 65 would not have been proportionate. I wouldÇ accordinglyÇ have granted relief requiring it to be reconsidered..."
He reasoned, however, that the DRA had to be judged as of 2006 - the date it was implemented - and highlighted that the "preponderance of consultees" on the legislation at that time favoured age 65.
The ruling means that more than 260 claims for age discrimination pending before employment tribunals are now likely to be dismissed.
Andrew Lockley of Irwin Mitchell, the law firm representing the claimants, said that if the government had not brought forward its review of the DRA it would have lost the case:
"The judge has effectively given the government breathing space to go away and change the rules. His comment that he cannot see how the DRA can stay at 65 will give renewed hope to thousands of workers approaching that age. Essentially, the government has been told to think again."
** Additional information & advice **
You can obtain further information about age discrimination on FindLaw.
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.