Just one day short of retirement…

…is a dangerous time if you’re an American cop in the movies, you’re bound to get hit with a bullet or an internal affairs investigation.

In the first instance case of Plewes v Adams Pork Produce Limited (reported by Burges Salmon) the employer’s normal (and contractual) retirement date was the day before the employee’s 65th birthday.

The age discrimination legislation provides that an employer may not have a retirement date below 65 unless there is some sort of objective justification (this is difficult to show in most fields). This chap’s was obviously below, albeit by one day.

So, despite the fact the employer seems to have correctly followed the ludicrous statutory retirement procedure, this happened:

The Tribunal held that Mr Plewes’ dismissal was unfair and, in the absence of any objective justification for a lower retirement age under 65, discriminatory. Further, given that Adams conceded that it did not follow a statutory disciplinary procedure as a result of its mistake over the retirement date, the Tribunal also applied the maximum 50% uplift to the compensatory award. … The employee’s dismissal was therefore discriminatory and he was awarded compensation of over £36,000, including an award of £7,500 for injury to feelings.

Ouch. I agree the liability for both unfair dismissal and age discrimination, but I did find myself wondering about the awards. 50% seems a high uplift where the employer followed a comprehensive procedure in good faith – but there is a woeful lack of guidance on the choice of uplift percentages. Also, was there scope in the unfair dismissal award for reducing the compensation on the just and equitable basis? I mean, OK, I’m arguing contribution by way of reaching an age, which seems wrong, but we are dealing with a dismissal that was one day away from being fair and a framework that says retirement dismissal after the age of 65 is acceptable.

I may think this over further, but it’s an odd set of circumstances.