Retirement age

Introduction

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.

Rules

Mandatory retirement

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.

Public sector employees

People who were recruited before 1 April 2004, and who did not reach their compulsory retirement age of 65 before 26 December 2018, now have a new compulsory retirement age of 70. People who joined before 1 April 2004 previously had to retire at 65. Now they can now to choose to work to age 70 on existing terms and conditions. This is subject to the normal standards of health and performance that apply to all staff.

There are some exceptions, for example;

  • People employed between 1 April 2004 and 31 December 2012 do not have a compulsory retirement age.
  • Some occupations - for example, the Gardaí, firefighters and members of the Defence Forces - have provisions for much earlier retirement.

For people who joined the public service after 1 January 2013 the minimum retirement age is 66 rising to 68 in 2028 in line with the State Contributory Pension and the mandatory retirement age is 70. This means that they 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 Gardaí 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.

The Code of Practice on Longer Working Order 2017 (pdf) provides guidance on the best practices to follow during the engagement between employers and employees in the run up to retirement including responding to requests to work beyond the retirement age. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission have published guidelines on retirement and fixed term contracts. The guidelines aim to ensure that older workers, who wish to continue in employment, are not discriminated against in the workplace. They also provide guidance on using fixed-term contracts beyond the compulsory retirement age.

Self-employed people

In general, self-employed people do not face age limits.

There is no general age limit for company directors, but sometimes the company's articles of association may specify an upper age limit.

General practitioners must retire from the General Medical Services scheme at age 72. However, they may continue in private practice if they meet the fitness to practise criteria set by the Medical Council.

Page edited: 9 January 2019