• 6 Dec 2017
  • Irish Independent
  • Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor –

THE compulsory retirement age for public sector workers is to rise to 70 under plans to be announced today, the Irish Independent understands.

Workers will be allowed to retain their jobs for five years longer than is currently the case in a bid to overcome an anomaly that has left thousands of people on the dole.

Under existing rules public servants are required to leave their job at 65, but are unable to receive the State pension until they turn 66.

As a result an estimated 5,000 older people are currently in a ‘no man’s land’ when it comes to social welfare entitlements.

These people are obliged to sign for the dole and formally pretend they are “available for work” until they qualify for the old-age pension 12 months after being forced out of the workplace.

The problem was to be compounded in 2021 when the pension age increases to 67. And within a decade the pension age is due to rise to 68.

The Irish Independent previously revealed that OPW Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran sought changes to the compulsory retirement age during negotiations for last October’s budget.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe commissioned a review of the situation which has now recommended the retirement age be gradually increased to 70.

However, there is no requirement on workers to remain in the workforce until this age if they wish to retire earlier.

Mr Moran said he was delighted with the development.

“It’s something I’ve been campaigning about since the Independent Alliance entered negotiations for Government,” he said.

“I believe if people are forced to retire at 65 and don’t get a pension until 68, it makes no sense. Let’s call a spade a spade, they are been forced onto social welfare.

“Now they will be entitled to continue working if they want. And if they don’t, they can retire.”

He described the announcement to be made by Mr Donohoe today as “a big win all around”.

The move is likely to receive cross-party support as Fianna Fáil’s social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea previously called for the abolition of the compulsory retirement age.

While there is no single fixed retirement age for employees, many workplaces do set 65 years as the exit date in their employee contracts.

The retirement age in the public sector for most workers who joined before 2013 is 65 years, which constitutes the vast majority of those still working.

For those who joined since January 1, 2013, the retirement age is 66.