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Working longer? The case of the Canadian police and firefighters

by on September 6, 2016

We blogged a couple of weeks ago about the issues where working longer is seen as a problem. And more recently a report from the TUC found that almost half a million people in the UK aged 60 to 65 are not working due to ill health or disability which has forced them to leave the labour market prematurely. In this article on the CIPD website,  TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady is quoted as saying “we must hold off on any further rises in the pension age until we have worked out how to support the one in eight workers who are too ill to work before they even get to state pension age“.

In Canada it seems there is a similar debate taking place regarding older age, physical fitness and (mandatory) retirement.  And focus this week has been on those who are physically fit and want to continue to work, as reported in this item in the Times Colonist. This highlights requests by firefighters – and now police – to work past the age of 60.  It’s reported that in the City of Vancouver there is a collective agreement with the union that requires all firefighters regardless of classification, gender, or department of service to retire at age 60. Legal challenges to this have apparently been unsucessful. The collective agreement is said to reflect a bona fide employment requirement.

But as we noted, there will always be individuals who want to challenge this and to work longer. Now it seems that a policeman is seeking to do this, notwithstanding a similar collective agreement covering the police. The Oak Bay Police Board has now twice rejected the officer’s desire to work past the age of 60, again because of a contractual mandatory age of retirement.

However, in another part of Canada (Victoria), it seems an exception was made for one officer who wanted to work beyond age 60. I’m going to predict more individual applications to work beyond the mandatory retirement age in such occupations both in Canada and the UK.

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