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 now 65 for people who joined the public service after 1 April 2004. This means that new entrants to the public service will not have retire at 65 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.
The Employment Equality Act 1998 was amended by the Equality Act 2004, to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of age for everyone above 16. However employers are still allowed to set minimum recruitment ages of 18 or under and to set retirement ages in employment contracts. Section 34 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 states that " it shall not constitute discrimination on the age ground to fix different ages for the retirement (whether voluntarily or compulsorily) of employees or any class or description of employees."
There is a statutory, (that is, set out in legislation), retirement age for some public servants. This is generally 65. Recently appointed judges have a statutory retirement age of 70, while longer serving judges may remain in office until age 72.
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 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.