A High Court decision that may leave thousands of elderly architects vulnerable to losing their jobs has been met with anger
The ruling, which came under the Heyday test case brought by charity Age UK (formerly Age Concern), means that employers are now able to force employees aged over 64 to retire. The decision could potentially affect up to 3,974 ARB-registered architects, or 12 per cent of the profession.
Former RIBA president Owen Luder, 81, believes the case could be used to release ageing staff without redundancy pay. He said: ‘Employees who are 65 or over in an office that is looking to shed staff… will feel uncomfortable.
‘Many practices operate these days as limited companies [and this ruling] may be seen as an opportunity to get rid of a director who is considered redundant.’
However, the decision is unlikely to have a long-term impact as the government is set to bring forward its review of the default retirement age to next year.
The head of employment law at solicitors’ firm Mace & Jones, Martin Edwards, commented that although it will remain a complex area, the expected outcome of the review should help those who wish to continue working past 65.
He said: ‘Some of the comments in this judgement may make it difficult for the government not to increase the retirement age to at least 68, but it is possible that we will see the ability to compulsorily retire abolished altogether in the near future.’
Ruling leaves older architects at risk of forced retirement