Increase In Compulsory Retirement Age To 70 For Certain Public Service Workers

Author:Mr Séamus Given and Sarah Lawn
Profession:Arthur Cox

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. The 2018 Act provides for an increase to age 70 in the compulsory retirement age for the majority of public servants recruited before 1 April 2004.

As a result, an increased number of public servants will be entitled to work longer if they wish, the effects of the "pension income gap" will be significantly alleviated and Government policy in relation to supporting fuller working lives and pension reform will be advanced.

The change does not however fully consolidate the retirement ages of the difference cohorts within the public service.

Position Prior to 26 December 2018

The compulsory retirement age in the public service is generally determined by the date of recruitment of an individual:

If an individual was recruited prior to 1 April 2004, their compulsory retirement age was 65. If an individual was recruited between 1 April 2004 and 31 December 2012, they do not have any compulsory retirement age (this group is referred to as "new entrants").

If an individual was recruited on or after 1 January 2013, their compulsory retirement age is and remains 70. It is worth noting that certain employees in the public service, due to the nature of their work, are required to retire early, including members of An Garda Síochána, the Permanent Defence Force, firefighters and prison officers. This group and new entrants are not affected by the changes made by the 2018 Act.

Need for Change

The Interdepartmental Group on Fuller Working Lives recommended in August 2016 that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform ("DEPR"), with public service employers, review the existing statutory and operational considerations giving rise to barriers to extended participation in the public service workforce. In this context, the 2017 DEPR Review of Barriers to Extended Participation in Public Service Workforce clearly identified a need for a change to the compulsory retirement age of certain groups of public servants.

The key drivers for such change were identified by DEPR in a June 2018 Regulatory Impact Analysis as follows:

  1. Pension income gap

    The State Pension (Contributory) ("SCP") is not payable until age 66. As a result, public service employees obliged to retire at 65 must apply for Jobseeker's Benefit from the Department of Social Protection to address this pension income gap. This gap is set to increase as the age of eligibility for SCP increase in...

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