In the last few weeks, a High Court judgement served as a useful reminder that employers who have a proposed retirement age for employees must consider whether they are actually entitled to retire the employees at all. The case of Quigley v HSE is one to watch as the High Court has granted an interlocutory injunction to restrain the HSE from dismissing the employee who contended that he was not contractually required to retire at age 65.
This of course reminds us that having a contractual retirement age in the contract is an essential prerequisite. In this recent case, the HSE contended that the requirement to retire at age 65 had been implied into the contract of employment and that as a long-standing permanent officer of the HSE, he must have known that he had to retire at age 65, the statutory retirement age for permanent officers who joined the public health service at the time he did.
Of course the contractual retirement age even if it is stated as a mandatory retirement, can still be challenged to ensure there is no grounds for age discrimination or Unfair Dismissals under the Acts. Interestingly age discrimination claims are becoming the norm where the absence of a retirement age that is objectively justified, the employer can be exposed under the Employment Equality Acts in respect to enforcing the retirement of an employee based on age.
It is likely that there will be further reviews of this matter in 2018, when it may require legislative change.