SNP MEP Comment On EU Older Worker Judgment

23 September 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) voiced his disappointment at a ruling by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice in effect giving a green light for employers to maintain mandatory retirement ages.

The ruling is influential, though not binding, on the full Court which will rule on the case later this year. The case has been brought by Age Concern to clarify whether employers have the right to force retirement upon older workers who wish to work.

Speaking from Brussels, Smith said:

"This case is of huge importance to tens of thousands of older workers across Scotland. While I will fight to maintain the right to retire for those who wish to, there are plenty older workers who want to work and can work, but their employers enforce a mandatory retirement age against their wishes. This means financial uncertainty for older people and removes able workers and vital experience from the workplace and economy when we can ill afford to lose them.

"I know plenty 65 year olds with more energy than I have, and in my view mandatory retirement ages should not be legal, each case should be decided on its merits. I am disappointed with the ruling from the Advocate General today, though as Age Concern says it is a set back rather than a disaster.

"I for my part will be working with Age Concern and the Unions in Scotland to bring clarity to this complicated legal area, this case is far from over."