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Age discrimination already spells trouble for government

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They’re not due to come into force until October 1 but the new age discrimination regulations have already landed the Government in trouble.

The retirement group Heyday, which is backed by Age Concern, is taking the Government to court over provisions in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (2006).

Heyday is requesting a judicial review over mandatory retirement ages, which it says is incompatible with the EU Equal Treatment Directive.

Under the regulations, employees over the age of 65 have the right to request to continue working but – as with the Flexible Working Regulations, it is only a right of request. Therefore, the employer does not have to grant permission nor do they have to give reasons for their decision.

Heyday argues this provision means that the directive cannot hope to stop older people who want or need to keep working being forced out of work in the UK. The group says this contravenes the directive.

Under EU law, directives are flexible enough to allow member states to introduce their own regulations to bring the provisions into force but their requirements must still be fulfilled.

Neil Churchill of Heyday says: “Forcing people to retire is denying people the right to work – a right which everyone should have, regardless of age.

“The Government has failed in its legislation around ageism in the workplace. Currently, workers have no rights to stay in employment past 65 and are being driven out of work.

“Taking the Government to court is not a step we are taking lightly. Heyday is not a pressure group, but we have to act and the time to act is now. We are determined to challenge the existence and legality of forced retirement. It’s what people approaching retirement want; it’s good for business, good for the economy and good for society.”

The Government has 21 days to submit a response to Heyday’s application to the High Court. If permission is granted for the case to proceed, a full oral hearing will take place, most likely in early autumn.

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