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As Andy Murray considers retirement, we consider age discrimination

View profile for Emily Yeardley
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Tennis legend Andy Murray (aged 31) has revealed plans to retire once he has competed in Wimbledon this year, as a result of his ongoing recovery from hip surgery.

As Andy Murray is a professional athlete, he is entitled to retire at whatever age he chooses. Interestingly, employees also share the same rights as there is no “standard” or “default” retirement age. This means an employee can choose to retire at any age, even after they have started receiving their pension payment entitlement. Although the default retirement age was abolished many years ago, this is still an area which is misunderstood and we still see contracts which refer to a default retirement age.

The Equality Act 2010 provides that you must not be discriminated against because you are (or are not) a certain age or because you are in a certain age group. This right extends to job applicants, where an individual is treated unfairly and not selected for the role because they are in a different age bracket to the other applicants. The way in which an employee is discriminated against will determine which type/types of discrimination apply, for example, direct or indirect, harassment or victimisation.

Age discrimination & retirement

As the average human life expectancy continues to rise, people want/need to remain in work past their state pension entitlement age.

It is important to note that employers cannot force employees to retire and may be liable for age discrimination if they;

  1. Treat an employee unfairly because they are considering retirement or have reached the state pension age,
  2. Suggest an employee should retire or put pressure on them to do so,
  3. Make ageist remarks, or
  4. Hold the mistaken belief they can change an employee’s contract of employment once they take all/part of their pension.

The law permits different treatment because of age if one of the exceptions apply.

Acas age discrimination guidance

Earlier this month, Acas issued new guidance in relation to age discrimination at work. The guidance addresses how age discrimination may happen, where age discrimination may happen and other important considerations.

If you believe you are being treated unfairly as a result of your age or any other reason, or would like to discuss this article in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Team.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.

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