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Mock EAT: The Question Of Employees At Retirement Age

PRACTICE AREA GROUP: Employment, Pensions and Benefits
DATE: 22.06.2011

On 30 September 2010, the Group hosted our Mock EAT Seminar. The Mock EAT case was based on a real hearing which was heard in February of this year.

The case concerned, inter alia, the dismissal of an employee who, at 71, had exceeded the company’s retirement age. At the seminar we discussed the issues arising from the termination of an employee in this position. The ‘real’ EAT determined that the claimant had been unfairly dismissed and found re-instatement to be the most appropriate remedy. The respondent company has appealed the decision and is currently waiting for the appeal to be heard. We shall keep you informed of the outcome. Those interested in reviewing the facts of the case can access the full case here.

Great care is required by employers in handling termination of employees, either at or above retirement age. This is particularly so where an employee’s contract of employment is silent in respect of retirement age, or where an employer inherits a situation through a transfer of undertaking or series of transfer of undertakings.

Also in this Issue, we have two articles which are concerned with the issue of retirement age. Contained in our recent EAT Decisions is the case of O’Carroll v Sovereign Security Ltd, which is concerned with the placing of employee on a fixed-term contract after he had reached the company’s retirement age. This is a practice which is often undertaken by employers but which is not legally sound, particularly where there has been prior continuous service. Contained in our News from Europe, the European Court of Justice ruled on whether a Danish law which excludes workers who are entitled to an old age pension from a severance allowance is discriminatory on grounds of age in Ingeniorforeningen in Danmark v Region Syddanmark.

With the extension of retirement ages across Europe now being common place, including those proposed under the National Pensions Framework in Ireland, matters concerning employees at retirement age are set to become even more complex.

We had an excellent attendance at this seminar, with over 85 participants and we were delighted to meet with so many of you over lunch and coffee. We would like to thank all of those who attended. We would also like to thank our barristers who participated in the seminar, namely Michael Howard SC, Peter Ward SC and Niall Beirne SC. If you would like to be included on our mailing list for future events, please email events@matheson.com

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