There is no single fixed retirement age for employees. If you are employed, your retirement age is set out in your contract of employment. Some contracts of employment have a mandatory retirement age (that is, the age at which you must retire), but they also have provisions for earlier retirement generally and/or on grounds of illness. The usual retirement age in contracts of employment is 65. Many have provisions for early retirement from age 60 or in some cases from age 55 and most have provision for early retirement on health grounds.
In some cases, there is a statutory retirement age. These retirement ages arise in jobs that are established by law and the law sets out the maximum age of staff.
If you are self-employed, there is no set retirement age. There is no overall retirement age for company directors, but the company's articles of association may set a maximum age.
The mandatory retirement age is the age at which you must retire. It is usually set out in your contract of employment. There are still some employments where the contract of employment does not include a mandatory retirement age but they are unusual.
The retirement age in the public sector for people who joined it before 1 April 2004 is 65 years. Some occupations - for example, the Gardai, firefighters and the Defence Forces - have provisions for much earlier retirement.
The minimum retirement age is 65 for people who joined the public service after 1 April 2004. For people who joined the public service after 1 January 2013 the minimum retirement age is 66 and the mandatory retirement age is 70. This means that they will not have retire at age 65 or 66 but can continue working, subject to suitability and health requirements. Pension benefits for new entrants to the public service will therefore accrue on a standard basis (that is, one year's credit for one year's service up to a maximum of 40 years' service). The minimum retirement age is 55 for people who joined the Gardai and Fire Service after 1 April 2004, while the compulsory retirement age for Gardai is 60.
Equality legislation: Discrimination on the grounds of age for everyone aged over 16 is prohibited under employment equality legislation. However, employers are still allowed to set minimum recruitment ages of 18 or under and to set retirement ages in employment contracts. Since 1 January 2016, section 34 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 is amended by the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 to the effect that an employer may set a mandatory retirement age provided it is objectively justified.
There is a statutory, (that is, set out in legislation), retirement age for some public servants. For people who joined the public service before 1 April 2004 this is generally 65. Since 1 January 2013, the minimum retirement age for new entrants is 66 rising to 68 in 2028 in line with the State Contributory Pension.
In general, self-employed people do not face age limits.
General practitioners must retire from the General Medical Services scheme at age 70 – this is a statutory provision. However, they may continue in private practice if they meet the fitness to practice criteria set by the Medical Council.
There is no general age limit for company directors, but sometimes the company's articles of association may specify an upper age limit.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.