The Legal Retirement Age

I got a call last week and I was asked this question. What is the legal retirement age in South Africa?

A quick Google Search gave me these two comments
1. Bowman and Gilfillan say

Section 187 of the Labour Relations Act renders discriminatory dismissals based on grounds such as race, sex, gender, religion and age automatically unfair. This is in line with the general prohibition of unfair discrimination on these and other grounds contained in the Constitution and the Employment Equity Act. However, where age is concerned, the Labour Relations Act makes an important exception, namely that an employer may retire its employees when they have reached the “agreed” or “normal” retirement age. Once the employee has reached this age, the employment relationship terminates and this does not constitute a dismissal for purposes of the Labour Relations Act, nor is it automatically unfair.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no general retirement age in South Africa. Employers and employees are therefore free to agree at which age the employees will retire. This agreement is normally found in the employee’s employment contract, or may, in special circumstances, be determined with reference to the rules of the retirement fund to which the employee belongs.

2. ENS – Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs say
Employers in South Africa continue to be troubled and to make mistakes about retirement. This is clear from the number of cases that come before the Labour Court. The Labour Relations Act says that a dismissal based on age is not unfair if the employee has reached the agreed or normal retirement age. However, employers frequently forget that what is ‘normal’ must be proved, and that for there to be an agreed retirement age, both parties must agree to it. Employers cannot simply declare a particular age to be the retirement age and think that this will automatically apply to all existing employees regardless of how long they have been employed for and what age they currently are.

WeszMadz says – So bottom line, There is no retirement age in South Africa. Unless agreed upon prior with the employee then it might be seen/taken as unfair dismissal or unfair discrimination.

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8 thoughts on “The Legal Retirement Age

  1. As a law student, it is tought to enter the market. Most end up working for legal aid or joining non-profit organizations to gain experience. At times I curse studying my LLB and for not obtaining straight As. I even enrolled for a second degree as a back up for not making it in the legal industry.

    As for the retirement age, my mother and other elders I know were forced to retire for reasons known to them. I’ve noticed that companies force their elderly employees to retire to accomodate the fresher market and due to the fact some are making a chance and a fresh perspective is needed.

    Hopefully when I retire, I will not only have established myself as an entity, I will retire writting for a living.

  2. Why are teachers classified as professionals but do not enjoy the privileges that come with it, for example, compulsory retirement age, working long hours without extra pay (marking, extra mural activities, parent teacher evenings, award events, cultural and fundraising events) all usually taking place outside what is considered ‘normal’ working hours.
    We have no control over: the curriculum, school timetable, who we teach or the matric exist exams, but are expected to produce straight As from the majority of learners who are unable to cope with the demands of the curriculum as it is too wide in outcomes/ tasks with little depth in each subject areas.
    Why are we being retired when their is such a shortage of teachers? Why are we paid so poorly which exacerbates the way the profession is viewed as it demands a four year degree but fails to deliver a financially independent lifestyle. Who in their right mind with strategic thinking is going to choose this career. In addition, how can we teach value if we as teachers cannot even develop the defining parameters to ensure their is value in this profession?
    other professions have regulatory bodies that fight to ensure it maintains a standard of excellence in behaviour which elevates and adds value to it. All members have a say and are listened to which ensures the profession delivers a constant standard of performance making it trustworthy in the eyes of the general population, not teaching. They get blamed and bashed for every ‘lack of’ that occurs, whether it’s poor results, high levels of illiteracy, unteachable learners (for various reasons) and most importantly an unwieldy curriculum that has teachers spinning for the most part of the year to complete. Matric teachers have the worst of it as they have four terms work they have to squash into three terms. Have we all gone crazy that we think we can equate this turmoil of activity with education which is the acquiring of knowledge in an empowering manner?.
    Phyllis Walsh

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