Supreme Court considers the law on age discrimination

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (a partnership) [2012] UKSC 16, the Supreme Court has confirmed that employers need to give careful consideration when seeking to justify mandatory retirement ages.

The Court has held that inter-generational fairness and facilitating a dignified exit for employees are potential legitimate aims. However, employers must show that the identified legitimate aim actually applies to their business and that the particular retirement age chosen is appropriate and necessary to achieve that aim.

In practice, even where an employer can demonstrate a legitimate reason for wanting compulsory retirement, it could be difficult for it to prove that adopting a particular retirement age is an "appropriate and necessary" measure. For example, where an employer is arguing that it seeks to improve the recruitment of younger people, it would need to show not only that it faces a problem with recruiting the young but also that a retirement age of 65 is an appropriate and necessary solution.

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