27 July 2011 #Employment
Although the Default Retirement Age was abolished in April this year, employers who issued retirement notices before this, should take note of the EAT decision in Compass Group v Ayodele (2011).
Compass issued Mr Ayodele with a notice of its intention to retire him on his 65th birthday. Mr Ayodele made a formal request to continue working. However, following a meeting with his manager, his request was refused. Prior to this meeting, it had been made clear to Mr Ayodele that the company`s policy was to retire staff at 65 with no exceptions. Mr Ayodele`s subsequent appeal against his employer`s decision was unsuccessful.
The EAT, in upholding the tribunal decision, held that Mr Ayodele had been unfairly dismissed. The evidence in tribunal indicated that the meetings between Mr Ayodele and Compass had been "meaningless formalities" as the policy was rigidly applied to all staff. Consequently, the EAT found that Compass had breached its duty to consider Mr Ayodele`s request to work beyond retirement, as it failed to consider this in "good faith". Any policy on retirement should not be inflexible and employers should consider exceptions in each individual case.
Therefore, whilst employers who issued notices to retire prior 5 April 2011 are not required to give reasons for refusing requests, they should ensure they have evidence that any requests to work beyond retirement were genuinely considered, to minimise the risk any successful claims.