FIANNA FÁIL HAS published a bill that would scrap the compulsory retirement age of 65.
The bill bans discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of age and will be debated in the Seanad this week.
The proposals are contained in a Fianna Fáil strategy on promoting the rights of older citizens, published by the party’s Seanad Spokesperson on Enterprise Senator Mary White earlier this year.
Senator White explained:
“The current Employment Equality Act bans workplace discrimination on the basis of gender, race or sexual orientation. I am proposing that the Act be amended to include a ban on discrimination solely on the basis of age. This would mean that employees who have the physical and mental capacity to remain in the workplace after the age of 65 would not be forced to retire.
Senator White described this age limit as outdated and said that there are many people in their 60s and 70s “who are in the fullness of their health and have a lot more to offer in their workplace”.
She said that people over 65 should be allowed to continue working if they want to and that the bill is about providing options to employees and to managers “who have much to gain from greater flexibility in this area”.
Senator White continued:
Forcing people to retire at 65 can affect their self-esteem and has an impact on the overall status of older people in Irish society. Such an outdated age limit forces an unnecessary ‘brain drain’ of experience, expertise and maturity from our public and private organisations.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Eamon Timmons of Age Action said that they would be interested to see how the bill is phrased. He said that there should be freedom there for employees as some, depending on the industry, may not be able to work beyond 65, while some would want to. Others may have planned a new life for their ‘third age’ after retirement.
He said a major issue now is that the under a new scheme people will begin to qualify for their State pension at the age of 66 from 2014, which will go up to 68 in 2028. “We don’t know what will happen next year,” he said, adding that people may have to sign on to the dole for a year but that there “needs to be provision made for people who want to retire”.
Timmons added that Age Action would not be for forcing people to retire. “Anybody should be allowed to work for as long as they wish, as long as they can do the job,” he said, adding that people are living longer than when the retirement age was first introduced in the early 20th century.
“Doing away with mandatory retirement would probably fit the bill depending what it is replaced with,” he said. Age Action are to campaign on the issue of the changes to the State Pension as they feel the State hasn’t been fair with people in informing them about whether there are specific plans to deal with this issue.