Mind the Gap - Irish Employers need to review pension provisions

William Fry event highlights compliance challenges facing Irish employers in 2022

Irish employers should align any compulsory retirement age in their employment contracts with the State pension age to ensure there is no gap between the time a person must stop working and when their State pension begins. That was the consensus at a William Fry LLP (William Fry) virtual conference this morning attended by over 200 in-house legal counsel from across Ireland.

Attendees at William Fry’s CounselConnect conference heard that a small but growing number of employers have already aligned their compulsory retirement age with the State pension age to address this gap.  Alternatively, more and more employers are simply choosing not to include a mandatory retirement age in their employment contracts due to the difficulty with proving an objective justification for a mandatory retirement age.

Ciara McLoughlin, a Senior Associate in our Employment & Benefits department, noted: “Irish businesses who wish to include a compulsory retirement age in their employment contracts would be permitted to do so if the government enacts legislation recommended by the Commission on Pensions. However, employers would need to be able to provide evidence that having a compulsory retirement age is objectively justified."

Attendees also heard from Peter Cosgrove of Futurewise who spoke about the changing nature of work during COVID-19. Despite the recent uncertainty, he stressed that that employers need to realise that getting people back into the office or redesigning office space will not lead to change on its own, employers need to think how management can encourage behavioural changes and not just expect them to happen.

Peter expanded by saying: “Employers need to continue to communicate to their employees and get feedback on their experiences so far. They need to let their employee know that this is a transition phase and not the way work will be forever. With any experimentation it is about iterating and changing things, therefore empower your employees to see how the office can work at its best for them."

The half day conference also covered a number of other topics including:

  • Class actions in Ireland
  • Cross border disputes: Recognition & Enforcement of Judgments
  • Retirement Ages
  • Sustainability reporting
  • The Covid Act, and
  • Top Ten Regulatory Takeaways from 2021

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