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Legislation and Policy Shifts: Extending Working Lives in Ireland

The Minister for Enterprise, Simon Coveney, has recently approved a new legislation that marks a significant milestone in employment rights in Ireland. The legislation, titled the Employment (Restriction of Certain Mandatory Retirement Ages) Bill 2023, grants workers the right to continue in their jobs until they reach the State Pension age, currently set at 66.

Under the provisions of the bill, any mandatory retirement age below the State Pension threshold will be removed. It will mean that if an employee provides written notice to their employer that they do not consent to the mandatory retirement age, the employer must not retire them before they qualify for the State Pension (age 66).

While this move has been long-awaited, it emphasises the importance of individual choice in retirement planning. Minister Coveney stressed that although the legislation provides employees with the choice to prolong their careers, it does not obligate them to do so, thereby maintaining flexibility in retirement decisions.

The decision to enact this change was informed by recommendations from the Pensions Commission, reflecting a broader acknowledgment of evolving perspectives on retirement. The move has been welcomed by key stakeholders, including the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), which has long advocated against premature retirements enforced by employers. “The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has long argued there is a sizeable and growing number of workers who are forced to retire earlier than they would wish because of the age of retirement in their employment contract, typically 65,” said Owen Reidy, ICTU General Secretary.

Changes in Retirement age for the gardaí and Defence forces

In a related development aimed at addressing retention challenges, the government has also announced adjustments to mandatory retirement ages within certain public service sectors. Notably, the mandatory retirement age for members of An Garda Síochána has been increased from 60 to 62, a decision hailed by the General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors as a welcome development for those seeking to extend their careers.

Similarly, in the Defence Forces, mandatory retirement ages for both officers and enlisted personnel will be raised to 60, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin, “This is a crucial step in addressing recruitment and retention challenges while ensuring the retention of skilled personnel”.

The announcement reflects a proactive approach to adapting to changing demographic and workforce dynamics. Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe underscored the government’s commitment to facilitating extended service through pension policies designed to provide additional certainty in retirement planning.

In conclusion, these legislative and policy changes represent a significant shift in attitudes towards retirement, prioritising individual choice, and addressing workforce retention challenges in key sectors.