Compulsory retirement – can you force someone to retire when they reach a certain age
by Anna Mottram
It used to be possible to require someone to retire when they reached the age of 65, but this law was scrapped in 2011; meaning anyone can continue to work beyond retirement age if they want or need to. It is important to remember that in this context the law applies not just to employees but to workers and in some cases those who are self-employed. However, there are certain situations where you can require someone to retire once they have reached a certain age.
Two recent cases heard by the employment tribunal involved lecturers from Oxford University and while the situation is very different, the principles are generally applicable. In the Oxford cases, the University had a policy where lecturers were required to retire once they reached the age of 67. The University claimed that the reason for this was to achieve a number of legitimate aims such as inter-generational fairness, succession planning, and equality and diversity. In this instance the tribunal found that the University had a legitimate aim in enforcing retirement and that it was a reasonable and proportionate action in achieving this aim.
Issues relating to inter-generational fairness and succession planning are important in a farming business. An additional factor is likely to relate to the physicality of the job. You may be able to justifiably require someone to retire when they reach a specified age if this can be objectively justified. Once again, you would have to show that it is reasonable and that it helps you achieve a legitimate aim.
It is also important that you include appropriate provisions in any contractual documents, such as the employment contract, to the effect that the person working for you is able to perform the duties necessary for the effective performance of their role.
If you have concerns, it is important to take professional advice. Contact our friendly team on 01270 611 106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org