Thursday, 26 April 2007

Ceisteanna (73)

Seán Ryan


72 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the provisions of employment law that discriminate against employees over 65 years of age; his plans to correct these anomalies; if primary or secondary legislation will be required for each of these anomalies to be corrected; his views on whether it is desirable to facilitate those who wish to continue working past 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15479/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

There is no age discrimination in employment rights legislation and there are no provisions in Employment or Equality law that impose a compulsory retirement age in relation to employment. I would point out that the upper age limit of 66 years for bringing claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2005 was removed by the Equality Act 2004. The effect of this is that a person who is over the age of 66 when dismissed may take a case under the Unfair Dismissals Acts unless he/she has already reached the normal retirement age for that employment, if one exists. The removal of the age cap of 66 for statutory redundancy is included in the Protection of Employment (Exceptional Collective Redundancies and Related Matters) Bill 2007 which is designed to give effect to certain commitments arising from "Towards 2016".

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, administered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, protect against discrimination on the ground of age and on other grounds, in relation to access to employment. However, the Acts also permit an employer to decide on a retirement age in a particular employment. The purpose of such provisions is to give flexibility to employers and employees, having due regard to the nature of the work being performed. Such retirement age limits are not in breach of the Employment Equality Acts or the Unfair Dismissal Acts.

Decisions in relation to retirement are influenced by a range of issues and the challenge is to give people the flexibility and choice to work past 65. Obstacles to people working at an older age include benefit and pension entitlements and this issue is being reviewed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs in consultation with the Pensions Board. Under the terms of the Social Partnership agreement "Towards 2016", the Government is committed to the continued participation of older people in the labour market which will be encouraged and facilitated to meet the challenge of an ageing society. Indeed, Ireland has experienced a significant rise in the employment of older workers in the past 10 years with employment rates rising by 10%. The employment rate for older workers in Ireland at 53% already exceeds the EU 2010 target of50%, and is well ahead of the comparable rate for the EU 25, of 42.5% (2005).