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Does an employer have the right to expect an employee to leave when they reach retirement age?

When a person reaches retirement age, their main consideration is whether to continue working or stay at home. This decision is influenced by the difficulty of their job, health, family situation and other important factors. The decision to leave should certainly not be at the employer’s request. Does an employer have the right to expect an employee to leave when they reach retirement age?

In almost all matters relating to work and age, it’s important to recognise that age does not matter. This means that a person can work for exactly as long as they can and want to. Age only plays a role in certain cases, e.g. in the Defence Forces, where active service ends at the age of 60. This means that if no legal age limits have been established for the given job, the employer does not have the right to terminate the employment relationship on the grounds of age. Overlooking someone for training and promotion due to their age is also not justified (subsection 2 (2) of the Equal Treatment Act).

It is not appropriate for an employer to ask an employee leading questions related to their age that can reduce the employee’s motivation and consequently affect their performance. Such leading behaviour can later be used as an argument in the ascertainment of discrimination. Highlighting age-related circumstances is also prohibited. For example, saying that an employee lacks “youthful enthusiasm” is directly pejorative.

This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, or if you have a question, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.