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Age Action urges backing for bill to abolish mandatory retirement

Published 23/02/2017

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Age Action is calling on TDs to back a Bill to abolish mandatory retirement clauses that will be debated in Leinster House tonight.

The Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill 2016 has been introduced by Deputy John Brady.  

Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people pointed out that similar legislation proposed by former TD Anne Ferris received cross-party backing in 2015 and urged all parties to support older workers.

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Mandatory retirement is simply age discrimination, forcing someone out of a job because they’ve reached some arbitrary age set by their employer.

“People retiring today are expected, on average, to live 20 years or more. The number of people aged over 65 is going to almost treble in the next thirty years.

“If someone wants to work and can do the job, why should they be forced out because they turn 65?”

Deputy John Brady and Deputy Denise Mitchell launching a Bill to abolish mandatory retirement
Deputy John Brady and Deputy Denise Mitchell launching a Bill to abolish mandatory retirement

Loophole

A briefing paper published by Age Action late last year explains EU employment law forbids discrimination on the basis of age but a loophole allows Member States to treat workers differently if justified by a ‘legitimate aim’.

Justin Moran continued: “Courts have found that examples of a ‘legitimate aim’ can include forcing older workers onto the dole to make room for younger unemployed even though the evidence shows this does not deliver more jobs for younger people.

“Those countries with high rates of employment for older workers are also typically those with similar rates for young people.

“Government policy is to support longer working lives, to enable those who wish to work a little longer to do so, to value their contribution and their experience. But in practice, employers are permitted to get rid of older workers for no other reason than they turn 65.”

Financial hardship

Recent changes to the Irish pension system means that many victims of mandatory retirement clauses are not just losing their salaries, they’re losing out in State supports.

Justin Moran explained: “The Government raised the State Pension age from 65 to 66 and abolished the transition pension.

“This means a worker forced into retirement at the age of 65, the most common age chosen by employers, has no choice but to go on the dole for 12 months while waiting to receive their pension.

“This is why there are more 65-year-olds on Jobseeker’s Benefit than at any other age and it means these newly unemployed workers are getting almost €50 a week less than they would if they were entitled to a State Pension.”

Age Action is urging all TDs to back the Bill when it is debated on Thursday evening and on Thursday week when the vote will take place.

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A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smith, Co-Director of Together for Yes.