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Age is just a number...the High Court decision on compulsory retirement in the UK

15th November 2009
By Clive Thomas in Employment Law
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Age is just a number....

The High Court in the UK have recently upheld the compulsory retirement age of 65.

Mr Justice Blake rejected the challenge brought by Age concern and Help the Aged and held that the Government's default retirement age of 65 complies with the European Union Directive on Equal Treatment at Work.

Employers can therefore continue to dismiss workers at 65 without a redundancy payment. Workers can request to work on but their request can be rejected without any reasons given. This means that 260 outstanding age discrimination cases that were awaiting the outcome of the High Court case cannot now succeed.

However the ruling that has been hailed as a "vital victory for common sense" by the employers organisation the CBI had a massive sting in the tail.The Judge stated that there was a compelling case for a change in the law and that presently he could not see how 65 can remain as the default retirement age in the prevailing economic circumstances.

The Government is now under increasing pressure to act and it has brought forward it's review of the compulsory retirement age by a year to 2010. Many believe that the review will lead to a change in the law and either remove the compulsory retirement age altogether or increase it possibly to 70. In response the CBI have stated this would cause an unworkable stuation and lead to litigation. They have stated that 8 out of 10 people who ask to work beyond 65 are accepted, but it cannot be possible for everyone.

Currently it is estimated that 1.3 million workers are working beyond 65 but many more would do so if they were able due to the effect of the recession on their private pensions. We now await the result of next year's Government Review however it seems highly likely that the High court "victory" will prove to be a hollow one and a change in the compulsory retirement age will follow.

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About the Author
Occupation: Managing Partner of Watkins and Gunn Solcitors
Clive Thomas is the Managing Partner of Watkins and Gunn Solicitors and he has been qualified as a Solicitor for 19 years. He is a Member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel and a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Watkins and Gunn are one of the leading law firms in South Wales. They hold the Lexcel accreditation and were the winners of the Law Society's Excellence Award for Practice Management 2009 and the 360 Legal Award for Outstanding Achievement 2010.

Clive's specialist areas are Personal Injury, Litigation and Employment law. Clive has extensive experience of all aspects of personal injury work with a particular emphasis on employers’ liability cases. He also has almost 20 years experience in litigation and employment law.He is recommended within both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners
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