Active Retirement Ireland, the country’s largest membership organisation for older people, says that any delay to legislation stopping workers from being forced to retire before they reach state pension age at 66 is unacceptable and a gross failure to older people.

The charity is calling on the government to value the rights of older people and prioritise the enactment of the Employment (Restriction of Certain Mandatory Retirement Ages) Bill this year as committed.

Active Retirement Ireland CEO Maureen Kavanagh said: “We welcomed the announcement in March that Cabinet had approved this legislation to address the gap created by the mandatory compulsory retirement at age 65, still faced by many in the private sector, being a full year before workers become eligible for the State pension.

“This is a gap that should not exist and the government must act to get this over the line as committed and stop leaving thousands of older people each year in this absurd limbo where they are told they are too old to work, but too young to be eligible for the state pension.

“The current situation where employees in the private sector have to retire at 65 and then go on social welfare until they reach pension age at 66, unless they can negotiate with their employer to stay on another year cannot be allowed to continue.

“Active Retirement Ireland is strongly opposed to mandatory retirement ages which are ageist and take choice away from older workers. Giving people the option to stay at work for as long as they can or feel they need to in order to secure a decent retirement is good for everyone.

“This bill was a step in the right direction and it cannot be left to sit unenacted and unimplemented like so many of Ireland’s policy commitments around ageing and older people, as highlighted by the Alliance of Age Sector NGOs in February this year.

“Active Retirement Ireland and our co-members of the Alliance have long called for the establishment of an Independent Commissioner for Aging and Older People in Ireland to champion the rights of older people across all government departments.

“The projected shelving of this legislative protection for older workers in favour of other priorities is a prime example of why it is time for an Independent Commissioner for Aging and Older People, who would ensure that the various policy commitments made to the older people of this country are not just announced but properly implemented and meaningfully monitored.”

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