Saturday, December 09, 2006

Will British Columbia End Mandatory Retirement at 65?

The Premier's Council on Aging and Seniors Issues published its report Aging Well in British Columbia, in November, 2006. The report discusses a wide range of matters including work, health, neighbourhoods, independence and financial security.

The one recommendation that I expect will get the most publicity is the recommendation to amend the Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c. 210 to extend the prohibition against discrimination based on age to those aged 65 and over. Currently the Code defines age to mean "an age of 19 years or more and less than 65 years," which allows employers to have mandatory retirement policies for employees at 65. The Premier's Council on Aging and Seniors is proposing to abolish mandatory retirement that is based on age alone.

I think that this recommendation makes sense. The best argument for mandatory retirement is that some jobs have physical requirements that employees might no longer meet when they get older. Fine, but what is magic about 65? In some cases the age might be lower. I can only think of a few players in the National Hockey League who are still playing at the age of 40. In other cases, employees can do the job well beyond 65. It seems to me that employers should be able to have retirement policies based on the requirements of the job without an arbitrary age.

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