The Government believes that as we live longer and healthier lives many people wish to, and can, continue to work to an older age and make a positive contribution through their work to our society. Accordingly The Roadmap for Pensions Reform details a range of measures intended to support a positive ageing environment, where older people are, to the greatest extent possible, encouraged, and facilitated in working, if they wish to, beyond the ‘normal’ retirement age.
Ireland does not have a default age at which employees must retire and the setting of retirement age remains a matter for agreement between employers/employees and the employment contract. The Government recognises that measures which may support longer working include encouraging employers to more closely consider the logic of, and justification for, mandatory retirement ages in employment contracts.
Employers/employees and their representatives had indicated difficulty in interpreting and engaging on matters relating to retirement age in the absence of an overarching guidance or framework. In response to these concerns, the Workplace Relations Commission has recently published a ‘Code of Practice on Longer Working’. The code informs best practice in managing the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement, including requests to work beyond what would be the normal retirement age in the employment concerned. Following publication of this code, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will prepare and publish further guidance material for employers on the use of fixed-term contracts beyond normal retirement age.
The Government expects that these and other provisions will combine to result in greater employee flexibility to work beyond what may be considered the traditional retirement age of 65. To ensure this is the case, the Roadmap confirms that employment practices in this area will be kept under close review in the near term. This will include engaging with employer and employee representatives and monitoring the labour market more generally to observe changing employment practices.
As the Roadmap makes clear, should it appear that these provisions are not resulting in improved flexibility for workers, the Government will examine and consider the merits of restricting the capacity to use mandatory retirement provisions relative to the State pension age.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.