Fixing Retirement Ages and Offering of Fixed-Term Contracts Create Potential for Age-Related Discrimination Warns Commission

Commission Issues Formal Guidance for Employers and Employees

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today published new Guidelines for employers and employees to seek to ensure that older workers, who wish to continue in employment, are not discriminated against in workplaces in Ireland

The Guidelines focus on the potential for discrimination arising from the compulsory retirement of staff on reaching a particular age, as well as the offering of fixed-term contracts to persons over that compulsory retirement age. It considers practical issues that arise from granting fixed-term contracts to employees who are over a compulsory retirement age, and explains how these issues may be addressed by both employers and employees.

The Guidelines consider the setting of compulsory retirement ages, and the dismissal of employees who reach that age. Both of these actions are subject to the requirement of “objective justification”. The Guidelines explore what “objective justification” means and what the relevant test involves.

The Guidelines come as both private and public sectors are currently exploring opportunities and confronting challenges presented by an aging workforce. They serve a dual purpose: they equip employers in meeting obligations under the Employment Equality Acts; and they inform employees about their right to equal treatment in the workplace.

Cases of age discrimination related to employment made up 14% of cases raised by members of the public to the Commission under the Employment Equality Acts in 2017, and the Commission has provided legal assistance to people who have sought to continue in their work beyond their contractual retirement age.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, stated:

The Commission has consistently highlighted concerns over age related discrimination in the workplace. We are now using the Commission’s powers to proactively present guidance to support both employees and employers in combatting discrimination.

“Many people now wish to continue to work for longer.  They should be able to do so without being treated less favourably or subjected to discrimination.”


For further information, please contact

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor

Read the full guidance document entitled “Guidelines on Retirement and Fixed-Term Contacts”

Further detail on the case where the Commission provided legal representation is available at the link below:

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.