A second Oxford University professor this year is challenging the institution over its retirement policy, explaining that his research is too important for him to stop working.
Can you force someone to retire? Gita Patel, solicitor in the employment team at SA Law comments in Personnel Today:
“It is unlawful to force an employee to retire unless this can be objectively justified and be shown that a compulsory retirement policy is a proportionate mean of achieving a legitimate aim. It is often extremely difficult for employers to show objective justification, however legitimate aims such as promoting access to employment for younger people and sharing employment opportunities fairly between generations have been deemed in the past to be lawful by the courts. It is likely to be same here.
Although there is no duty for an employer to consider requests to work beyond retirement, academics at the university are permitted to apply to work beyond the compulsory retirement age in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Professor Ewart’s ground-breaking projects on solving climate change and environmental pollution could fall into this exception. However, if the university refuse an application made by Professor Ewart, without giving it genuine consideration, this could be deemed to be unfair and discriminatory. The university will need to proceed with caution to any requests made, to ensure that they do not regularly deviate from their retirement policy otherwise this could undermine their business case, deeming the overall policy to be unlawful.”