Retirement in NI: What Employers need to know

Kevin Bennett

September 06 2019

As an employer, you might wonder if there’s a retirement age in Northern Ireland. You might also wonder if you can ask your employees to retire.

The answers might just surprise you…

Is there a fixed retirement age?

For employees in Northern Ireland, there is no longer a fixed retirement age. This means employees can work for as long as they choose.

In most cases, you can’t force an employee to retire. If you were to do so, you run the risk of an age discrimination claim.

Can I set a retirement age?

It’s important to note that in some instances it is lawful to set a retirement age. For instance, the job might have a compulsory retirement age (such as the police and fire service). You would not be discriminating against an employee if you can justify why you are setting a compulsory retirement age. A job requiring certain physical capabilities would be a valid reason.

In the case of White v Ministry of Justice 2014, the employment tribunal found that a retirement age of 70 for judges was objectively justified by the legitimate aim of social policy.

What about the state pension age?

As we often see, employees retire once they reach state pension age and claim their state pension. The state pension age can range from 61 to 68 years of age. An employee will still be able to claim their state pension if they continue to work, and will no longer have to pay national insurance.

To find out more about the state pension in Northern Ireland, click here.

What if an employee wants to keep working?

As an employer, it’s important to consider what you can do for employees who continue to work.

Regarding retirement plans, it’s the employee’s responsibility to discuss it with you. If you want to discuss future plans with an employee, this could be done in an appraisal meeting. That said, you shouldn’t ask employees when they want to retire, as it could be viewed as age discrimination.

If you are discussing retirement with an employee, you might want to ask them if they want to make use of flexible working options. This would allow the employee to continue to work, but have more flexibility around the hours or days that they work. If you do take this route, you’ll be showing your flexibility and that you support the needs of the employee.

Have further questions concerning retirement? Call our experts today on 0800 917 0771 or fill in a contact form to receive a call back.

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