Retiring employees?

A recent case has hit the headlines which acts as a reminder to employers of the risks of retaining a compulsory retirement age.

The English & Wales Cricket Board has been in the employment tribunal recently facing claims of age discrimination from two experienced umpires and former England cricketers.

Former umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey have brought claims arguing that the Cricket Board’s decision to retire them from the first-class umpire list at the age of 65 amounts to both unfair dismissal and age discrimination. The Cricket Board has sought to defend the claims on the basis that the compulsory retirement of umpires is justified to enable younger players to take on new roles as umpires, and due to the ‘physical and mental pressures’ of the role.

The Equality Act 2010 abolished compulsory retirement ages in the UK from 1 October 2011. This means that employers who require an employee to retire will run the risk of facing a claim of discrimination.

Age is unique amongst the protected characteristics under the Equality Act, in that direct discrimination can be objectively justified. To defend a claim of direct age discrimination following a compulsory retirement, an employer must establish that the retirement age is intended to meet a legitimate aim and that the retirement age is a proportionate means of achieving that aim.

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.


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Andrew Chamberlain

Partner - Head of Employment & Chair of the SDE

I am a Partner, the National Head of the Employment Team and the Chair of the Service Delivery Executive (SDE), which is focused on building better solutions for clients.