Hey Day Challenge bounced back to UK Courts

Following the recommendation of the senior Advocate General back in September 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have as predicted ruled that UK retirement laws are not in breach of the European Unions equal treatment directive.

The ECJ ruled that the practice was legal if it had a legitimate aim related to employment and social policy. Furthermore It has directed the ruling back to the High Court in London to decide if the age limit was "legitimate" on those grounds.

Tribunals in the UK have been advised to suspend rulings on cases involving mandatory retirement until the outcome of the test case is heard. Some 260 people in Britain are awaiting the decision. They will now have to wait for the UK courts to set the precedent, which will be a blow for those expecting their forced retirement to be overturned soon.

The ruling was followed by an outcry from the lobbying and campaigning groups demanding immediate action from the UK government to intervene and change current policy.

Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN -The Age and Employment Network commented:-

"Given the overwhelming need to keep demand and purchasing power in the economy, it makes no sense to 'fire' people who are willing to work and spend their earnings at the present time."

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber commented:-

"Age discrimination is still an issue in many workplaces. The ECJ judgment will leave the door open for businesses to ditch staff as soon as they hit 65, regardless of whether or not they are doing a good job and whether or not they want to stop work."

Director of Age Concern Gordon Lishman believes that there is still a strong chance of the Hey Dey challenge winning in the High Court, he commented:-

“We still have a very strong chance of winning in the British Courts. The ECJ has said the Government must prove to a high standard why forced retirement ages are needed‚ and those reasons must be based on social or labour market needs‚ not the interests of employers."

The two charities behind the challenge, Age concern and Help the Aged have accused the UK government of double standards encouraging people to work beyond the age of 65 yet keeping legislation that prevents many from doing so. Only six months ago mandatory retirement ages were scrapped for civil servants but the Government failed to change the law to benefit all UK employees. The charities also pointed out one in eight MP's would be out of a job immediately if the rule applied to them, further adding to the hypocrisy.

The Hey Day challenge to overturn the default retirement age has been a a topsy turvy affair, everything now hangs on the ruling of the High Court in London, that's discounting any intervention from the government. Currently the government has promised the existing law will be re-examined, and could be relaxed further, in 2011. In the meantime many awaiting the outcome of the challenge, may be condemned to swallow the bitter pill of slow progress should the High Court rule that the current laws are "legitimate".


posted by

Dizali Mentha
Associate Editor


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