University of British Columbia Law Review
Employment law; Mandatory retirement; Age discrimination; British Columbia Human Rights Code
In employment law, mandatory retirement ("MR") is the compulsory termination of employment as a result of the employee having reached a specified age. In legal circles, MR is regarded as retirement rather than dismissal, though an individual who wishes to continue to work beyond a specified age might disagree. The elimination of MR in British Columbia resulted from the deletion of five little words in the definition of "age" in section 1 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c 210 (BCHRC). Section 1 of the BCHRC formerly defined "age" as meaning "an age of 19 years or more and less than 65 years". Bill 31, later the Human Rights Code (Mandatory Retirement Elimination) Amendment Act, 2007, SBC, c 21, s 1 [effective January 1, 2008] changed the definition to mean "an age of 19 years or more." The elimination of MR fell short of total and complete annihilation, however, because of the following four continuing exceptions: (1) age under 19 years; (2) operation of a bona fide retirement, superannuation or pension plan or a bona fide group or employee insurance plan; (3) bona fide occupational requirement; or (4) age-based distinction permitted or required by any Act or regulation. While other forms of prohibited discrimination in employment, such as race or sex, are absolute, human rights legislation prohibiting age discrimination invariably allows broad statutory exceptions because ageing is a fact of life that affects everyone. For this reason, human rights provisions abolishing MR permit age discrimination in employment to continue on relatively broad grounds.
Anthony Sheppard, "Mandatory Retirement: Termination at 65 is Ended, But Exceptions Linger on" (2008) 41:1 UBC L Rev 139.