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WRC Awards €30,000 Due to Employer Not Complying With Code of Practice for Longer Working When Enforcing Mandatory Retirement Age

posted 1 year ago

In the case of Brendan Beirne v Rosderra Irish Meats Group ADJ00027036 the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) addressed the application of mandatory retirement ages  and how to deal with requests for longer working. In this decision, the Adjudicator, Shay Henry, held that although the Respondent met the requirements set out in the Employment Equality Act to rely on a mandatory retirement age, it failed to comply with the 2017 Code of Practice on Longer Working. The Adjudicator awarded €30,000 for this failure on the basis that to do otherwise would make the Code of Practice “meaningless”. 

Facts: The Complainant’s contract of employment and collective agreement under which he worked, together with his pension all provided that he was subject to a mandatory retirement age of 65 years. The Complainant was forced to retire from his employment as a General Operative with the Respondent, on 18th August 2019 upon  reaching 65 years of age.  The Complainant was in good health and performing well.  In June 2019 the Complainant informed his manager that he was seeking to work beyond  his 65th birthday.  In a letter dated 10th June 2019, the Respondent referred him to the collective agreement in place regarding the retirement age, which was referenced in his contract of employment. Despite correspondence over the course of July 2019 between the Union and the Respondent, the Respondent confirmed that they would not accede to his request to work longer and retired him at 65. Crucially, the Respondent did not provide the Complainant with reasons for its decision other than the contractual provisions, nor did it provide him with any appeal mechanism.  The Complainant claimed that the Respondent’s refusal of his request for longer working amounted to discriminatory dismissal based on his age.

Conflicting evidence was given by the parties as to whether the mandatory retirement age within the Respondent was enforced consistently. The Respondent gave evidence of two employees who were retained longer than their 65th birthday due to their very specialised skill set and the company not being in a position to replace them by the retirement dates.

 

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