Heyday case on default retirement age returns to court

The Heyday case on the default retirement age (DRA) has returned to the Administrative Court to determine whether or not it is legitimate for UK employers to continue with the current practice of retiring employees when they reach age 65.

The hearing, set to end today with a final judgement expected in the Autumn, is the final stage of a three-year legal battle to remove the default retirement age.

Help the Aged and Age Concern, the charities behind the action, argue that the 2006 DRA regulation fails to adhere to an EU directive against discrimination. Earlier in the year, the European Court of Justice ruled that the DRA was not in breach of the EU law.

Kate Hodgkiss, employment partner at DLA Piper, commented: “If the default retirement age of 65 is ruled out, organisations will have an enormous challenge to establish and explain their own bespoke retirement age. Some businesses may end up having to justify each individual employee’s retirement to avoid discrimination claims, which could leave employers with a costly administrative nightmare to manage.

“With no automatic protection from retiring someone, we would be inviting infinite legal challenges and a gridlock of litigation to our already overburdened court system. One major concern for employers and younger employees is succession planning where no fixed retirement age exists. Increasing resentment and frustration could build up as who and how you move your workforce up the ladder becomes less clear.”