Can employers operate a compulsory retirement age?

An employer can operate a compulsory retirement age only if it can objectively justify doing so, by showing that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If a retirement age cannot be justified, it will be unlawful direct age discrimination.

If the retirement age is objectively justified, the dismissal of an employee because they have reached that age will be deemed to be for "some other substantial reason" under s.98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The employer must also follow a fair procedure and the ordinary unfair dismissal principles will apply.