Labour Party Chair calls for flexibility on retirement and re-introduction of State Pension (Transition) at 65

31 December 2018

The Chairperson of the Labour Party, Jack O’Connor, is calling on the Government to  re-introduce the State Pension, (Transition), for workers who have to leave their employment because they have a contract requiring them to retire at 65, as well as for those who no longer feel they are able to continue working after their mid – sixties.

Mr O’Connor said:

“The  recent legislation to allow public service workers to continue working until they are 70 years of age has now been signed into law and will be welcomed by people who feel they have many more years to contribute.

“However, there is a requirement to extend the same flexibility across the private sector as well. Future contracts requiring people to retire at 65 should be prohibited, while retaining the option retire at 65 and qualify for a pension once that age has been reached. We have to recognise that one’s capacity to continue in employment varies with regard to the nature of one’s work. People who have worked all their lives in physically ardouous occupations, or highly stressful ones, are not always as able to continue as others. Moreover, they are more likely to have gone out to work early in life and thus will have been paying full social insurance contributors for some years longer than their peers.

“Obviously, those opting for the State Pension (Transition) could not continue in gainful employment and they would have to otherwise meet the qualifying criteria for the current State Pension. The State Pension (Transition) was abolished in 2013 as a condition of the brutal Troika austerity memorandum. Thankfully, due to the sacrifices the people made, our economy is now robust and there is no longer any justification, if there ever was, to deprive those who will have been contributing to the Social Insurance Fund for well in excess of 40 years, in often tough and ardouous conditions, of the benefit of the option to retire.

“The qualifying age for the State Pension is 66 and will increase to 67 in 2021 and in 2028 to 68. There is probably a requirement to increase the qualifying age to 67, to ensure the long term sustainability of the system. However, implementation should be deferred out to 2030, at least, This would enable the more than half the working population who have no occupational or private pension cover of any kind  to accumulate savings in the proposed new second pillar pension scheme, if it ever happens. There is actually no requirement to increase the qualifying age to 68 as early as 2028. On the current trajectory, people who retire at the age of 65 will have to wait between one and three years to access their entitlement to the State Pension. This anomaly in the system should be alleviated by the Government allowing for a degree of flexibility by re-introducting the State Pension (Transition) for those who have to, or wish to, retire at 65.”

Also commenting on the issue of compulsory retirement age is Labour’s Anne Ferris, the former TD for Wicklow and current local election candidate in Bray, who introduced her own legislation – The Employment Equality (Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age) Bill, 2014 – in the Dáil. Ferris, then Vice-Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice & Equality, organised a series of hearings on the proposed legislation. “This Bill received not only cross-party support in Dáil Éireann but was also widely welcomed by a great number of people who had suffered both emotionally and financially through being forced out of their jobs prematurely”, said Ferris. “The most recent news that public service workers will be allowed to work until they are 70, if they wish to do so, is very welcome but it comes much too late for the hundreds of workers who were seeking these changes over the past number of years.”

Ferris is supporting Jack O’Connor’s call for the Government to  re-introduce the State Pension (Transition), for people who retire at the age of 65. “The fact that some people are forced to retire before they reach the age of being eligible for the State Pension and then find themselves having to apply for Job Seekers Benefit is an appalling slap in the face”, said Ferris. Jack O’Connor added “While it is good news that public service workers will be allowed to continue their employment until they are 70, this option is not being made available for all workers in Ireland and a proper transition type pension should be made available for those who are still forced to retire at the age of 65, for one reason or another,  until they reach the eligible age for the State Pension.”

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