All British retirement age discrimination cases have been put on hold pending the outcome of the European Court of Justice ruling on the Heyday case.
Legal action was bought by a campaign group backed by the charity Age Concern, called Heyday, claiming that Britain is breaking European rules by forcing people to retire at age 65 years without proving that it was justified. The ruling on the case is expected sometime in 2009, and the president of the Tribunals Service has said that all British age retirement cases will be put on hold until then.
Rachel Dineley, employment partner and head of the national diversity and discrimination unit at Beachcroft, said that the decision from the Tribunals Service may come as an unexpected and unwelcome surprise to employers.“[However] this recent Tribunals Service decision muddies the retirement age waters once again. It gives employees, who are unhappy at being required to retire at age or after 65 [years], fresh encouragement to commence proceedings against their employer, particularly as it will require little time and effort to lodge a claim, which will then be stayed until the 2009 Heyday decision.
“This, in turn, brings huge uncertainty for employers, whose action in retiring someone under Regulation 30 would previously have been expected to withstand scrutiny but could now be brought into question. The Heyday decision is a long way off; meanwhile, employers are left in difficulty when it comes to retirement, uncertain as to whether they will be accused of age discrimination.”