Mandatory retirement also known as enforced retirement is the set age at which persons who hold certain jobs or offices are required by industry custom or by law to leave their employment, or retire. Typically, mandatory retirement is justified by the argument that certain occupations are either too dangerous (military personnel) or require high levels of physical and mental skill (air traffic controllers, airline pilots). Most rely on the notion that a worker's productivity declines significantly after age 65, and the mandatory retirement is the employer's way to avoid reduced productivity. However, since the age at which retirement is mandated is often somewhat arbitrary and not based upon an actual physical evaluation of an individual person, many view the practice as a form of age discrimination, or ageism. Economist Edward Lazear has argued that mandatory retirement can be an important tool for employers to construct wage contracts that prevent worker shirking. Employers can tilt the wage profile of a worker so that it is below marginal productivity early on and above marginal productivity toward the end of the employment relationship. In this way, the employer retains extra profits from the worker early on, which he returns in the later period if the worker has not shirked his duties or responsibilities in the first period (assuming a competitive market).
In Australia, compulsory retirement is expressly unlawful throughout the various State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia.
The Governor-General can remove Justices of the High Court (and other Parliament-created courts) in limited circumstances (because of the constitutional separation of powers doctrine) so a Constitutional amendment was passed in 1977 to enforce a mandatory retirement age of 70 for federal judges.
The Constitution of Brazil says in Article 40, Paragraph 1, Item II, that all public servants in the Union, States, Cities and the Federal District shall mandatorily retire at the age of 70. This regulation encompasses servants from the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It also applies to the Supreme Federal Court Justices, as per Article 93, Item VI, of the Constitution, and the Court of Accounts of the Union Judges, as stated in Article 73, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution (disposition added after the 20th Amendment).
The normal age for retirement in Canada is 65, however one cannot be forced to retire at that age. Labour laws in the country do not specify a retirement age. Age 65 is when federal Old Age Security pension benefits begin, and most private and public retirement plans have been designed to provide income to the person starting at 65 (an age is needed to select premium payments by contributors to be able to calculate how much money is available to retirees when they leave the program, i.e., retire). It is not forced upon an individual to retire, it is their choice.
Mandatory retirement of federally regulated employees is prohibited from December 2012.
In October 2006 the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, the UK Labour Government introduced a Default Retirement Age, whereby employers are able to terminate or deny employment to people over 65 without a reason. A legal challenge to this failed in September 2009, although a review of the legislation was expected in 2010 by the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government. This review has taken place and on 17 February 2011 BIS published the draft Regulations abolishing the Default Retirement Age. The draft Regulations were later revised and the final version was laid before Parliament on 1 March 2011. As of 6 April 2011, employers can no longer give employees notice of retirement under Default Retirement Age provisions and will need to objectively justify any compulsory retirement age still in place to avoid age discrimination claims.
Mandatory retirement is generally unlawful in the United States, except in certain industries and occupations that are regulated by law, and are often part of the government (such as military service and federal police agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Website:
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.
From the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations discussing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act:
- ...one of the original purposes of this provision, namely, that the exception does not authorize an employer to require or permit involuntary retirement of an employee within the protected age group on account of age,
- ...an employer can no longer force retirement or otherwise discriminate on the basis of age against an individual because (s)he is 70 or older.
- Pilots: the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots is 65. The Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act (Public Law 110-135) went into effect on December 13, 2007, raising the age to 65 from the previous 60.
- Air traffic controllers: Mandatory retirement age of 56, with exceptions up to age 61. There is no mandatory retirement age for Air Traffic Controllers in the UK.
- Federal law enforcement officers, national park rangers and firefighters: Mandatory retirement age of 57, or later if less than 20 years of service
- Florida Supreme Court justices: The Florida Constitution establishes mandatory retirement at age 70.
- New Jersey Supreme Court also established mandatory retirement at age 70.
- Maryland Constitution establishes mandatory retirement age of 70 for Circuit and Appellate Court judges.
- New Hampshire Constitution - Article 78 sets the retirement of all Judges and sheriffs at age 70.
Roman Catholic Church
In the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI introduced a mandatory retirement age of 70 for priests and 75 for bishops and archbishops; there is no mandatory retirement age for the pope as he holds that position for life. The Pope does have the option, at his own choosing, to retire from the position of the Papacy, as seen by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) in February 2013. This decision is not taken lightly in the Papacy, and has been rarely enacted by the reigning pope. When such a decision is enacted, it is due to reasons of governance and politics (e.g. Celestine V), or more frequently, so that a Pope can be elected who has the full faculties of mind, body, and Spirit, to govern the Church effectively as Pontiff, as was the case of Pope Benedict XVI and other Popes before him in the history of the Catholic Church.
- Retiring Retirement
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- "Press Release – FAA Statement on Pilot Retirement Age". 14 December 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- SPECIAL RETIREMENT PROVISIONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, FIREFIGHTERS AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS, Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service, January 2011