Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (27)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

27. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding retirement age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11473/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

There is no statutory retirement age in Ireland and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employer. While such a contract may have been entered into with a retirement age of 65 year in the context of previous state pension arrangements there is no legal impediment to the employer and employee agreeing to increase the duration of employment by one or more years if both parties agree.

My colleague the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, is responsible for the legislative policy and administration of the state pension scheme and recently announced the introduction of the Benefit Payment for 65 Year Olds. This is a payment for people aged between 65 and 66 years who are no longer engaged in employment or self-employment. Eligibility for the payment is determined by a person’s PRSI contributions. A person in receipt of this payment will not be required to be available for full-time work or genuinely seeking work and they will not be required to sign on the Live Register.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is an independent statutory office under the aegis of my Department. The WRC has produced a code of practice on longer working hours which sets out guidance for employers, employees and their representatives, best principles and practices to follow during the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement including responding to requests to work beyond the retirement age in the employment concerned. The Code outlines the matters to be considered by both the employer and employee in relation to a request by an individual to work longer than the contracted retirement age.

Where a decision is taken to refuse a request to work beyond the retirement age, the grounds for the decision should be set out and communicated in a meeting with the employee. This will help the employee to understand why the request has not been granted, give the employee confidence that his/her case has been given serious consideration and that there are good grounds for refusing the request. The applicant should have recourse to an appeals mechanism, for example through the normal established grievance procedures in the organisation. The WRC's code can be accessed at the following link: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/600/made/en/pdf

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has also published guidance material for employees and employers who use fixed-term contracts beyond what was the normal retirement age of 65 years, this information can be accessed at the following link: https://www.ihrec.ie/our-work/legal-activity/retirement-and-fixed-term-contracts-guidelines/