Employment Contracts – Mandatory Retirement Age – €85,000 Award Says Not as Straightforward as Thought

Mandatory retirement age provisions are common in Irish employment contracts. These are often erroneously thought to be beyond challenge.

A recent Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision has re-iterated that while such provisions, or fixed term contracts after retirement age, are permissible this is only when they can be objectively justified. Where this is not the case employers run the risk of being found guilty of age discrimination.

In the case A Senior Staff Nurse v A Nursing Home (In Liquidation) the compulsorily retired complainant brought a claim for age discrimination under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and was awarded €85,000.

The lesson for employers is when seeking to rely on a mandatory retirement age clause they must be satisfied the decision can be objectively justified. They must also be seen to have actively engaged and consulted with the employee in question in the lead up to retirement in keeping with the WRC Commission Code of Practice on Longer Working.