If you are self-employed, there is no set retirement age. If you are an employee, your retirement age is set out in your contract of employment. There is no single fixed retirement age for employees.
Some contracts of employment have a mandatory retirement age (that is, the age at which you must retire). The usual retirement age in a contract of employment is 65. Many contracts allow for early retirement from age 60, or in some cases from age 55. Most contracts also allow for early retirement on health grounds.
Retirement age for public sector workers
If you are a public sector worker, your retirement age depends on when you joined the public service.
If you joined the public service before April 2004
If you were recruited before 1 April 2004, and you did not reach your compulsory retirement age of 65 before 26 December 2018, you now have a new compulsory retirement age of 70.
You can 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 - allow for much earlier retirement.
If you joined the public service after 2013
If you joined the public service after 1 January 2013, the minimum retirement age is 66 in line with the State Contributory Pension, and the mandatory retirement age is 70. This means you can continue working until you are 70, subject to suitability and health requirements.
Pension benefits for new entrants to the public service will therefore accrue on a standard basis. This means you get one year's credit for one year's service up to a maximum of 40 years' service.
In some jobs, there is a statutory retirement age. This means the retirement age is set out in law. For example:
- Members of the Garda Síochána must retire by age 60. If they joined after 2004, they can choose to retire as early as age 55
- Full-time members of the Fire Service must retire by age 55. Retained firefighters also retire at 55, but they have the option to apply for an extension up to age 58 (subject to a formal application process and medical assessment)
Retirement age for self-employed workers
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 (GPs) 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.
Age discrimination in employment
Under employment equality legislation, you cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of age. However, employers can set minimum recruitment ages of 18 or under, and set retirement ages in employment contracts. If setting a mandatory retirement age, the employer must be able to show that it is objectively justified. This is set out in the Employment Equality Act 2015 (which amended section 34 by the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1998).
Requests to work beyond the ‘usual’ retirement age
The Code of Practice on Longer Working Order 2017 (pdf) outlines 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 guidelines on retirement and fixed term contracts. The guidelines aim to ensure that older workers, who want to continue working, are not discriminated against in the workplace. They also provide guidance on using fixed-term contracts beyond the compulsory retirement age.