Mandatory retirement age?

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Mandatory retirement age varies by region and employer, with some countries facing prolonged work due to increased life expectancy and Social Security benefits. The Roman Catholic Church has a retirement age for bishops and priests, while the UK has a controversial age of 65. Employment laws are expected to evolve as more employees work past retirement age, and certain occupations, such as airline pilots, have mandatory retirement ages.

Whether there is a mandatory retirement age may depend on the region or the employer. Generally, many countries, including the US, are facing the prospect of people who may have to work at least to some extent when they reach legal retirement age. Prolonged life and the inability to stretch things like Social Security benefits can mean that many seniors continue to work long into their 60s, and the US has laws that protect people from age discrimination. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these laws are not enforced with great regularity and that finding employment after a certain age can still be extremely difficult.

There are some places where a mandatory retirement age may apply. One of the world’s largest employers, the Roman Catholic Church, applies this to bishops and priests, though not necessarily unilaterally. The shortage of priests in many parts of the world means that not everyone will retire at 70 for priests or 75 for bishops. Many remain because replacement is too difficult, or they may remain in a semi-retired capacity. They may say masses or perform some ceremonies, but they have nothing to do with running a parish or church. Interestingly, these ages do not apply to popes, who often live past 70.

Another example of a mandatory retirement age exists in the UK, although this remains a very controversial issue and one under which there is continued legal scrutiny. For now, people can be laid off from work at age 65. This can change very easily in the future.

Typically, many countries do not have a mandatory retirement age, which gives them certain protections under a country’s laws. Employers typically do not have the right to remove an employee from work because of age. What makes this legal field incredibly rich is what happens if an employee’s removal is not due to age but to diminished ability. For example, does an employer need to hire an employee who is a little slower or who is not as sharp as before? Seriously reduced capacity from illness may require an employee to resign, but what happens if the employee is mildly affected and can still perform the job, although perhaps not as well as the younger person?

These questions are expected to be asked repeatedly in employment laws in many countries as more employees work well past retirement age. Furthermore, even in countries where there is no mandatory theoretical age for retirement, it still exists in certain occupations. Airline pilots in the US, and generally elsewhere, are generally required to retire at age 65. Prior to this change in 2007, the mandatory retirement age for pilots was 60.

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