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Unfair Dismissal – Retirement Unfair and Employee Permitted to Work Until Age 70

In a case published this month, the Labour Court overturned a decision of the Workplace Relations Commission and found that the employee was unfairly dismissed by virtue of him turning 66 and that he should be reinstated to his former position and be allowed to work until age 70.

A full copy of the case is available here.


The Complainant commenced employment with the Respondent in 1980, and worked as an outdoor road worker, a truck driver. He claimed that he was forced to retire when he reached the age of 66 on 5thMay 2017. He contended that he should have been allowed to continue working as he maintained that the customary age for Lorry Drivers in the Council to retire was 72 years of age. Therefore, he claimed that he was unfairly dismissed.

The Respondent’s case was that the Complainant retired in accordance with the Respondent’s local and nationally agreed retirement age policy at the age of 66 years.

At the Workplace Relations Commission, the Adjudication Officer held that as the complainant or employee had reached normal retirement age, that an exclusion under the Unfair Dismissals Acts applied and that she had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The complainant appealed the case to the Labour Court.

The Labour Court

The Labour Court however looked at whether or not the normal retiring age for Local Government outdoor workers was 66 at the date of termination of the Complainant’s employment.

The Court was of the view that

there is no compulsory age of retirement specified in either the legislation relied upon by the Respondent, in any contract of employment (which was not available) or in any collective agreement having application to the Complainant. On the other hand, it would appear that there was a custom and practice of pre-2004 outdoor workers having the option to retire beyond their 66th birthday and up to their 72nd birthday”

It held that the complainant should be reinstated to his former position and permitted to work until the age of 70.

It should be noted that the remedy of reinstatement means that the employee in this case was entitled to return to the same job he held before dismissal on the same terms and conditions. In addition he was entitled to receive the back pay from the date of his dismissal.


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