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23 June 2011

Alison Narod discusses “Mandatory” Retirement on CKNW

Partner Alison Narod appeared on the Bill Good Show to discuss labour law and retirement.

British Columbia legislation does not specify a mandatory retirement age for employees.  The federal law that permits mandatory retirement at a “normal” retirement age for a particular occupation was successfully challenged in early 2011. 

More recently, one Vancouver lawyer took his firm to the Human Rights Tribunal after being required to retire from the partnership at the age of 65.  The Tribunal found him to be an “employee”, paving the way for it to decide whether his mandatory retirement was discriminatory.

Alison states “The impact of the economic recession on retirement savings and pension plans has led to increased interest to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65.  As the baby boom generation ages and as employers are less able to replace them because of looming labour shortages, employers may have to make accommodations to retain older workers.  HR professionals must be vigilant to remove age-based discrimination in working conditions.  This includes reviewing benefit plans, such as life insurance and disability benefits, as many benefits currently expire or diminish when the employee reaches 65. 

Additionally, employers can no longer engage in a practice of waiting for unproductive or incompetent employees to retire rather than addressing poor performance and terminating employment; without a mandatory retirement date employers cannot anticipate when an employee might retire. I foresee significant changes and challenges as firms adapt to a workforce whose age can range from 17 to 70 and over.”

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