UCL News


Number crunching

18 March 2006

Colm O'Cinneide [UCL Laws] understands that forcing people to retire before they are ready is a human-rights issue.

"Mandatory retirement involves the selection of an arbitrary chronological date, usually the 65th birthday," he writes. "It fails to take account of the vastly different situations that older persons may find themselves in at that date. By denying access to the workplace, it can close off opportunities for individual self-realisation and constitute a paternalist intrusion in personal life that violates the principle of human dignity."

O'Cinneide's theory suggests that as increasing numbers of older people find themselves out of jobs because of birthcertism, the [Irish] Republic will be challenged in the European Court of Justice. The Employment Equality Act 1998 originally protected only those aged between 18 and 65; the Equality Act 2004 removed the upper limit altogether. "Therefore," writes O'Cinneide, "it appears that in Ireland employers will have to justify the use of mandatory retirement ages on a case-by-case basis."

Róisín Ingle, 'The Irish Times', 18 March 2006