Another call to end mandatory retirement

New report from think tank says compulsory retirement hurts economy, discriminatory

Government policies that permit mandatory retirement are a drain on the economy and a violation of older workers’ human rights, says a Simon Fraser University public policy professor.

Argument for maintaining compulsory retirement policies are generally based on erroneous reasoning, says Jonathan R. Kesselman, in a report prepared for the C.D. Howe Institute.

“Discrimination in hiring and pay by sex and race of worker were once the norm in Canadian labour markets,” he says. “Legislative bans have reduced these unwarranted forms of discrimination and also stimulated incentives for advanced education and labour force activity by groups that have made increasing contributions to the economy. The same point could be made about age discrimination and a prospective ban on (mandatory retirement)."

Earlier this year, Bank of Canada governor David Dodge said that all companies and governments that enforce mandatory retirement policies are being “silly” and should rethink the policy and late last year, Prime Minister Paul Martin called for an end to the practice of forcing people to retire at 65.

In earlier eras, says Kesselman, it was often argued that married women should stay out of the workforce to preserve jobs for men. “This is no different than the contemporary argument that older workers should retire to make way for young job seekers.”

“A ban on (mandatory retirement) would benefit not only those who would like to work longer, but by stimulating business and policy changes, it would also benefit other older workers, businesses, public finances and the overall economy.”

To read the full report, go to:

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