Legal Matters: Can my boss pressure me to retire?
This article was originally published by The Hamilton Spectator.
Q: I’m not ready to retire but my boss keeps asking me when I am going to. Is this allowed?
A: No, generally it’s not appropriate for an employer to pressure (or force) a worker to retire, regardless of whether they are, for instance, 65 years old or 75. Businesses are allowed to ask, neutrally, if a worker plans on retiring in the near future but they can’t put pressure on them. In fact, the Ontario Human Rights Code was amended in 2006 to ban most, if not all, mandatory retirement schemes.
Retiring is a form of resigning and when a worker resigns typically they are not entitled to any severance (unless the contract provides, or unless it is a constructive dismissal situation). Those who retire are generally not entitled to Employment Insurance benefits either.
Employers will often use this fact to their advantage and wrongfully push senior workers to retire to avoid terminating them and having to pay large severance to workers with long service. That is simply and utterly wrong. Workers facing such pressure should seek legal advice from an employment lawyer (like me) as soon as possible.
Finally, it is worth noting that employers have a duty under the Human Rights Code to accommodate workers’ needs if they are connected to their age (or connected to e.g. a disability that they may develop due to aging) whether it’s a mobility issue or the need for temporary time-off from work for medical issues. The employer has to “accommodate” the need or restriction up to the point of “undue hardship” which is a very high bar.
If you have employment law questions or concerns please contact me anytime at email@example.com or my direct line: 905-572-5806.
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