09 March 2009
MEP speaks out against ECJ ruling on retirement laws
A politician has described a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which supported UK retirement laws as a "sad setback".
The court decided that the UK's retirement laws are not in breach of European Union laws as long as they have a legitimate aim related to employment and social policy.
Charity Age concern had brought the case, challenging the legality of rules which enable employers in Britain to force people to retire at the age of 65.
Responding to the ECJ's ruling, Timothy Kirkhope MEP said: "This is a sad setback for age equality in Britain.
"It is wrong to force people who want to make a contribution to the economy to hang up their boots, particularly during a recession."
He added that too many companies in the UK undervalue the expertise and experience that older workers can offer.
Mr Kirkhope went on to say that a "sea change" is required in terms of the country's attitude to older workers.
According to a BBC report, the government has stated that retirement laws are to be examined and could be relaxed in 2011.
Ivor Adair, employment solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker, commented: "The government might have got the age discrimination legislation right in terms of European law, but they still have to persuade the high court that a default retirement age of 65 is objectively justified.
"If the government cannot establish to a high standard of proof the legitimacy of the aim relied on as a justification it could well lose the case.
"That would be a significant result for many employees who are forcibly retired at 65 and feel they don't benefit from the same protections that younger employees have."