Age Action: End ‘ageist’ ban on working past 65

Age Action has called for the scrapping of mandatory retirement clauses which it said forced workers out of their jobs and facilitated ageism.

The charity is launching a new briefing paper on the issue today and renewed calls for members of the Oireachtas to explore the issue.

In calling for the abolition of the mandatory retirement clauses, Age Action also said that the ageing population in Ireland meant the policy made little sense and contributed towards a looming future pensions crisis.

“Every year in Ireland, older workers are forced out of their job for no other reason than they turn 65,” it said. “This is possible because Irish law permits employers to impose mandatory retirement ages in their employee’s contracts, in effect, facilitating ageism and creating a set of second-class employment rights for older workers.”

It also pointed to international research which suggested the current position did not increase the labour chances of younger people and that some older people needed to work longer because of financial issues, yet found themselves having to claim Jobseeker’s Benefit instead to cover the gap between retirement at 65 and the pension age of 67.

Justin Moran, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action Ireland, said: “A bill to abolish mandatory retirement clauses was introduced in the Dáil and won all-party support in late 2015 but it’s been stalled since the General Election and we’re hoping publication of the paper will help put pressure on the Government to move forward with it.”

The bill was introduced in 2014 by Labour TD Anne Ferris and would abolish mandatory retirement ages in Ireland for people who are able and willing to continue working. It also includes a number of exceptions for professions related to security, such as the Garda, or public safety, such as the fire service. It passed the second stage in the Dáil in October last year.

The Age Action briefing note highlights how spending on pensions in the Social Protection budget was expected to amount to €6.98bn this year, constituting 35.5% of current expenditure by the Department of Social Protection and more than 13.7% of total gross current expenditure.

“The task of financing increased pension spending will fall to a diminishing share of the working population as demographic projections indicate the ratio of working age to older people will decrease from 5.3 to 1 at present to 2.1 to 1 by 2060,” said Age Action.

It also refers to European Court of Justice rulings that Age Action said forced people who want to work a little longer, for financial reasons or for social reasons, to leave their jobs through what it called a loophole in EU law.

“Skilled, experienced employees against whom there is no suggestion that they cannot carry out their duties are losing their jobs to provide opportunities for younger employees,” it said. “This is ageism, pure and simple, and the fact that it is legal does not change that fact. Getting rid of mandatory retirement clauses is not about forcing people to stay working forever, it is about choice.”

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