Know your rights: Retirement age

Question

My employer says that I have to retire when I reach the age of 65. Can an employer make you retire at a certain age?

Answer (June 2017)

There is no single fixed retirement age for employees. If you are employed, your retirement age should be set out in your contract of employment. The usual retirement age in contracts of employment is 65.

Many contracts have provisions for early retirement from age 60 (or in some cases from age 55) and most have provision for early retirement on health grounds. Some occupations – for example, firefighters, An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces – have provisions for earlier retirement.

While employment equality legislation prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age, employers are still allowed to set retirement ages in employment contracts. Since 1 January 2016, under the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 an employer may set a compulsory retirement age if the employer can objectively justify the retirement age of an employee. This could be for health and safety reasons, for example, the physical demands and requirements of the job.

If an employee has reached the employer’s mandatory age of retirement, this legislation provides that they may still be legitimately offered fixed-term contracts, provided that it is objectively justified. The provisions of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 would still apply.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) provides information on your rights and entitlements under employment legislation. For further information about your contract of employment and retirement age you can contact the WRC’s Information and Customer Service at Lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or through the website, workplacerelations.ie.