Posted: Wednesday 23 May 2012
A recent article on the BBC news site highlighted the case of Solicitor Leslie Seldon who had been forced into retirement by his law firm shortly after his 65th birthday in 2006.
The BBC stated in their article that Mr Seldon, who wanted to keep working, argued that the decision to make him retire from the law firm came was unlawful age discrimination.
The Supreme Court concluded that fairness between generations was, potentially, a legitimate aim for the employers with the law firm arguing that their retirement policy ensured equality across the generations and ensured that younger solicitors could progress through the ranks.
Innes Clark, Head of Employment law at Morton Fraser, commented: ‘I noticed a number of headlines and press reports which suggested that this decision means that it is now easier for employers to force employees to retire. Whilst the case provides some useful clarification of certain issues there are still a number of significant hurdles in the way of an employer who wants to set a compulsory retirement age.
It is worth noting that Mr Seldon was a self-employed partner and was not an employee. Had he been an employee the employer could simply have followed the default retirement procedure which was in place at the time. This procedure was introduced in 2006 but abolished in 2011 meaning that UK employers now have to justify any compulsorily retirement of employees to avoid a finding of age discrimination.
I am sure we have not heard the last on this matter and I suspect we won't be seeing a rush by employers who have removed their compulsory retirement age to reinstate it just yet.’
A further in depth analysis and history of this case can be found on our Employment Law blog. For a more in-depth discussion on issues raised in this article please contact Innes Clark on email@example.com or alternatively on 0131 247 1181.