For Oral Answer on : 15/09/2022
Question Number(s): 45 Question Reference(s): 45146/22
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the measures that are being examined by his Department to support businesses whose employees choose to work beyond the age of retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
There is no statutory retirement age for employees in Irish legislation, apart from for certain public sector employees where statutory retirement ages may apply. A contract of employment will generally contain a retirement age, but this is a matter of contract between the parties.
Arising from a recommendation of the 2016 Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Fuller Working Lives, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) published a Code of Practice around the issue of longer working, setting out best industrial relations practice in managing the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement age in the employment concerned. The main purpose of this Code is to set out, for the guidance of employers, employees and their representatives, best principles, and practices to follow during the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement including responding to requests to work beyond the retirement age in the employment concerned.
In preparing this Code of Practice, the WRC consulted with the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and relevant Government Departments.
The Code sets out best practice over the following headings:
• Utilising the skills and experience of older workers.
• Objective justification of retirement.
• Standard retirement arrangements.
• Requests to work longer.
The 2020 Programme for Government, ‘Our Shared Future’ provided for the establishment of a Commission on Pensions: “to examine sustainability and eligibility issues with State Pensions and the Social Insurance Fund. The Commission was also asked in its Terms of Reference to consider the issue of retirement ages in private employment contracts that are set below the State Pension age.
The Pensions Commission’s Report was published on 7th October 2021. A whole of Government response is required in order to respond to the recommendations of the Pensions Commission. My Department is considering the Commission’s recommendations in relation to mandatory retirement ages in certain contracts of employment.
Employment equality must be a core consideration in reforms to address retirement clauses, and the needs of both employees and employers will require consideration and further consultation. In this regard, it will be necessary to liaise closely with employer groups as any changes in this area have potential to have a significant impact on workforce planning, particularly for SMEs.