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Spotlight on Ireland: Working beyond ‘retirement age’ at @CIT_ie

by on June 20, 2016

Another in our occasional series where we focus on a particular age at work situation in another country. Today’s spotlight is on Ireland where there is a statutory retirement age (generally 65) for members of the public service.  In England & Wales, mandatory retirement has been effectively abolished though there are some particular occupations where an upper age limit remains such as the statutory retirement age of 70 for judges. So it’s interesting to see the debate in Ireland in relation to an academic institution. It’s also a bit ironic that this story should appear on the same day as The Guardian publishes this item on British solicitors registering to practise in Ireland over fears of a vote to leave the EU. Apparently, this would mean British solicitors losing the right to argue cases for clients all the way to the European courts. With its shared language and common law jurisdiction, Ireland is said to be the alternative destination of choice for solicitors in England. Obviously there are still some differences, and this particular retirement age provision is one of them.

Anyway, back to the retirement issue at stake. As reported here in the Irish Times, the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) wants its president to be allowed to work beyond retirement age. Dr Brendan Murphy has been President since September 2004. He was reappointed for a five year period under a new contract in 2014. He will turn 65 this summer but it’s reported that CIT wants him to stay in office until 2019, i.e. the full period of his current term of office.

Discussions are said to be ongoing between CIT and the Department of Education and Skills. CIT is understood to be arguing that Dr Murphy is legally entitled to continue in post beyond statutory retirement age on contract and age-discrimination grounds. I wonder if the counterargument is that the contract appointing him for a period that extended the statutory retirement age is unenforceable or invalid in some way – any Irish lawyers out there that can comment on this?

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