Mandatory retirement in British Columbia will be eliminated as of January 1, 2008, under a bill introduced today in the B.C. legislature.
Bill 31, the Human Rights Code (Mandatory Retirement Elimination) Amendment Act, amends the definition of “age” in the Human Rights Code to extend protection from age discrimination to people 65 years and older. Currently, “age” is defined in the Code as “an age of 19 years or more and less than 65 years”. The Bill changes that definition to “an age of 19 years or more”. The effect is to provide employees with the choice of whether to continue working past age 65 and to allow claims of discrimination in employment if employees are required to retire at age 65.
The proposed legislation is not retroactive and will not require employers to re-hire staff who retire before January 1, 2008.
Pension plans and group or employee insurance plans will be permitted to continue making distinctions based on age, such as providing for early and “normal” retirement ages. Further, where it is a bona fide occupational requirement of a particular position that employees retire at a certain age, employers may still be able to justify exceptions to the rule.