Age laws challenge referred to Europe

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Heyday’s challenge to the new age discrimination regulations has been referred by a high court judge to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The move is not totally unsurprising – Heyday’s challenge related to the parent directive and whether it allowed mandatory retirement ages.

Heyday’s legal team argued that the action would turn on the interpretation of European law, which can only be finally resolved by the ECJ.

Rather than arguing the position in the high court, the government’s legal team accepted Heyday’s argument.

Heyday, the membership organisation for people in or nearing retirement has warmly welcomed the decision.

Ailsa Ogilvie, director of Heyday said: “The referral of our case to the ECJ is recognition of the importance of our legal challenge and we welcome the opportunity to seek a definitive ruling.

“The prompt reference to the ECJ means that we will achieve the earliest possible resolution on behalf of the tens of thousands of workers who are forced into retirement each year.

“We’re delighted that the government came around to our view that there should be a reference to the ECJ, asking it to resolve a number of questions of European law in relation to our claim.

“The UK was one of the last countries in Europe to enact the European directive outlawing age discrimination in employment – and we believe the government got it wrong.

“We hope that the ECJ will declare that the UK’s new law does not fully implement the European directive outlawing age discrimination. This finding would mean that the government would be forced to amend the legislation to give workers over 65 the same protection from discrimination that younger workers have.

“For the many people who have been victims of pension changes, who don’t have a decent pension or who want to continue earning money after 65 for whatever reason, the right to work free from discrimination is not an optional extra, it’s something they need.”

However, the wheels of European justice grind slowly and it is likely to be at least a year before the ECJ reaches a decision.

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