31 May 2019 #Employment
A former Oxford professor lost his Employment Tribunal claim against the University after it was held their employer-justified retirement age (EJRA) was justified.
Oxford University introduced a retirement age of 67 for academics, and allowed applications for extensions only in exceptional circumstances, such as to maintain continuity in projects or to complete work.
The Claimant applied unsuccessfully to extend his employment and brought claims of unfair dismissal and age discrimination.
The Tribunal dismissed his claims. It found that the University’s aim to promote diversity and equality was both legitimate and proportional, as the EJRA created vacancies the younger and more diverse academics would be able to apply for. It also agreed it was a proportional method to encourage career progression, given a significant proportion of vacancies arose through retirement.
The Tribunal also gave weight to the lengthy consultation process conducted in advance of the EJRA’s introduction, indicating that there had been meaningful discussions on the potential impact of the EJRA.
Whilst the majority of employers are likely to struggle to impose an EJRA, this case does demonstrate that they are possible to justify in certain circumstances. Clearly any EJRA needs to be carefully considered, proportionate and tailored to meet specific legitimate aims (which will need to be evidenced).