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Is There a Mandatory Retirement Age?

Enforcement of mandatory retirement ages remains relatively rare, though it does occur in some countries and companies.
By law, airline pilots in the U.S. must retire by age 65.
Typically, many countries do not have a mandatory retirement age.
There are instances in which retirement can be mandatory due to age.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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Whether there exists a mandatory retirement age may depend on region or employer. Generally, many countries, including the US, are facing the prospect of people who may have to work at least to some extent once they reach legal retirement ages. Lengthening life and inability to stretch things like social security benefits far may mean many seniors continue working long after they’ve hit their late 60s, and the US even has laws that protect people against age discrimination. Anecdotal evidence suggests such laws are not enforced with great regularity and that finding jobs after a certain age could still be extremely difficult.

There are some places where a mandatory retirement age can be enforced. One of the biggest employers in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, applies this to bishops and priests, though not necessarily unilaterally. Shortages of priests in many parts of the world mean not all will retire at 70, for priests, or 75, for bishops. Many stay on because getting a replacement is too difficult, or they may stay on in a semi-retired capacity. They might say masses or perform some ceremonies but not have anything to do with running a parish or church. Interestingly, these ages do not apply to popes, who often live past their 70s.

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Another example of mandatory retirement age exists in the UK, though this continues to be a very contentious subject, and one under which there is continued legal scrutiny. For the time being, people can be removed from work at the age of 65. This could very easily change in the future.

Typically, many countries do not have a mandatory retirement age, which gives them certain protections under a country’s laws. Employers typically don’t have the right to remove an employee from work due to his/her age. What makes this legal field incredibly rich, though, is what occurs if the employee’s removal is not due to age but to diminishing capacity. For instance, does an employer have to retain an employee who is a little slower or simply not as sharp as he once was? Seriously reduced capacity, as from disease, might call for asking an employee to step down, but what happens if the employee is just slightly affected and still can perform the job, though perhaps not as well as younger person?

These questions are expected to be ones asked repeatedly in employment law in a number of countries as more employees do work well past retirement age. Moreover, even in countries where there is not theoretical mandatory retirement age, there still can be in certain professions. Airline pilots in the US, and often elsewhere, usually must retire by 65. Before this change was made in 2007, the mandatory retirement age for pilots was 60.

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anon119794
Post 3

I am currently a Federal Agent and we have a mandatory retirement age of 57.

comfyshoes
Post 2

Cafe41- Thanks for the information. I do know that there is a forced retirement age placed on pilots. They generally have to retire at 60, but congress is looking into possible legislation to extend the retirement age for pilots to 65. This is a statutory retirement age which is set for safety reasons.

cafe41
Post 1

I just wanted to add that age discrimination laws make it illegal in the United States. One such law about age discrimination is the Age Discrimination Act of 1967. This law prohibits an employer from discrimination against an employee that is age forty or higher. The law covers businesses and government entities that employ at least twenty or more employees. For example, it is illegal for an employer to ask an employees age during an interview their age or have a specific age restriction on a job posting.

There is also another law called the Old Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 that does not allow an employer to discriminate against an older employee receiving benefits. The benefits that a younger worker receives have to be the same as what the older worker would receive.

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