End to mandatory retirement for federally regulated employees

December 21, 2011

Last week, the federal government repealed certain provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act which currently permit federally regulated employers to make it a term of employment that employees retire upon reaching a specified retirement age.

The amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act form part of Bill C-13, Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act, which received Royal Assent on December 15, 2011 and will come into force one year from that date.  Following the coming into force of Bill C-13, federally regulated employers will no longer be permitted to enforce policies or practices which provide that employees are required to retire when they reach a predetermined age. However, we note that the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which provide that a practice will not be considered discriminatory if such practice is based on a bona fide occupational requirement, remain in effect. Accordingly, certain employers may still be permitted to apply mandatory retirement policies without such policies being viewed as discriminatory.

Bill C-13 brings federal legislation in line with the provinces on this issue. With minor exceptions, all of the provinces have already put an end to mandatory retirement.

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