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January 31, 2005

Employer cannot unilaterally set retirement age

A recent ruling in the Labour Court has dealt with the issue of retirement age. In Rubin Sportswear v SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union and others the Labour Appeal Court had to decide whether an employer was entitled to determine a particular age to be the normal retirement age for his employees by setting it unilaterally as the retirement age. Four employees were dismissed by the appellant, who had recently bought the company, when they reached the age of 60, reports Cluver Markotter Legal Update. The respondents did not accept the dismissal and contended that they were still able and willing to perform their work beyond the age of 60 and that this dismissal was unfair discrimination based on age. The Appeal Court upheld the Labour Court ruling that the dismissal was unfair. It said the Appellant’s conduct in purporting to unilaterally fix 60 as the normal retirement age for the employees was a breach of their terms and condition of employment. The court further looked at what could be considered ‘normal’ retirement age and concluded that 60 was neither the normal nor the agreed retirement age for the respondents.
Full report in Cluver Markotter Legal Update


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