Sunday 17 December 2017

I'm being forced to retire at 65 but can I extend my career if I don't want to give up?

'The internet now dominates the initial process when seeking a new job' (stock photo)
'The internet now dominates the initial process when seeking a new job' (stock photo)

David O'Reilly

Q I am approaching retirement age of 65 as per my contract, but I would like to continue on for another year or two as I don't feel ready yet to retire. Also I will not be able to collect my pension until I'm 66. Can my employer insist I retire when 65?

A In Ireland there is a mandatory retirement age for public servants, which is 70, but this is not the case for workers in the private sector. For private sector employees the retirement age is generally as per your contract, which in your case is 65. There is much debate throughout Ireland, and Europe, on whether forcing someone to retire at a certain age could be viewed as discriminatory. Two Bills were presented to the Dail in December 2016 calling for the abolition of a mandatory retirement age.

A mandatory retirement age may not be seen as discriminatory as we all age, but generally an employer must be able to demonstrate that they have taken an objectively justifiable view when enforcing a mandatory retirement. In essence, your employer should be able to provide reasonable and legitimate reasons for concluding your employment at 65. An individual with a contracted retirement age cannot claim unfair dismissal.

However, I would urge you to engage early with your employer as there are solutions. It is now common practice to offer a fixed-term contract to retiring employees. This would normally be for a year, and may be extended by a further year, on the agreement of both parties. Your employer will need to ensure a fixed-term contract is quite specific on timelines and duties that apply to you so as not to set a precedent that may affect other employees now, or in the future.


Q I am 53 and have been with my employer for 26 years and am looking for a change. I am worried that I won't interview too well and I may be judged too old for a new job.

A Making a big change, such as you are contemplating, is not easy as one gets more comfortable as time goes by. However, the opportunities afforded to movers can far outweigh the benefits of staying in a job one feels may have become monotonous.

The search for a new job and the interview process will have changed since you were last a jobseeker. The internet now dominates the initial search and it is extremely important to have a CV that contains relevant information, is easy to read and understand, and contains key words that can be found by recruiters looking for new staff. Different statistics abound, but one I have heard repeated is that a recruiter will assess in six seconds whether a CV is of interest. This shows the importance of having a CV with impact that is relevant and readable.

Many interviewers will rely on competency-based questions during the interview process. Competency-based interview questions vary widely between sectors and depending on the level of responsibility to which you are applying. The type of competencies against which you will be assessed also depends on the actual post and the company who is interviewing you. For example, some companies view leadership as a competency on its own while others prefer to split leadership between a wide range of components (creativity, flexibility, strategic thinking, vision, etc). The questions tend to be situational and answers based on your own experiences.

Employers nowadays are more interested in your experience, and what you can bring to them, than any issues they may have with your age. Employees are working much longer, not only for economic reasons, but also because they have more to offer and feel better appreciated in the workplace.

As answered previously, many people want to work past 70 as their jobs are central to their lives. I wouldn't underestimate what you can offer a new employer and how they will value your experience.

David O'Reilly is a chartered MCIPD with a MSc in business from TCD and employment law from UCD. O'Reilly Digney & Associates are leaders in the recruitment of professionals for industry and finance

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