Extension of compulsory retirement age is common sense – Burke

-   Peter Burke TD

“The proposal to extend the compulsory retirement age for public servants is common sense.” That’s according to Peter Burke, Chartered Accountant and Fine Gael TD for Longford Westmeath, who welcomed today’s (Wednesday) news that the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, has secured Cabinet approval to extend the compulsory retirement age for public servants from 65 to 70.

Burke says that this move, which will apply to public servants recruited before 1st April 2004, will be welcomed by his constituents.

“This common-sense announcement today is great news for public servants who are currently forced to retire at 65 and who feel they have more to contribute at that stage.

“I have been contacted by a number of public servants, predominantly teachers and civil servants, since my election who were forced to retire at 65 when they felt they were willing and able to contribute more.  By allowing employees to stay on, we are harnessing their vast experience and commitment to their profession.

“It is important to point out that no public servant will be required to stay on past 65, but the option will be available to them when they reach that period in their career.

“As public health continues to improve and people are living longer, we need to address this both financially and practically.  It is common now for people to live up to 30 and 40 years passed the traditional retirement age, often in very good health.  This very positive ‘problem’ creates issues with pensions, but also means that people in their 60s and 70s are now a lot more active and healthy than those in this age brackets in earlier years.

“The new option being proposed by Fine Gael for public servants also allows people to have more financial independence in their later years.

“By comprehensively addressing compulsory retirement, it also allows a large group of people to overcome the current anomaly of not being able to receive their state pension until a year after retirement.

“I know this has caused unease from many employees who, having worked all their lives, are reluctant to sign on for stamps and unemployment benefit between finishing employment and beginning their state pension.  People should not be forced to do this.

“I welcome my colleague Paschal Donohoe’s commitment to this issue, after commissioning a review of the matter earlier in the year.  Compulsory retirement for public servants has been mandatory at 65 for decades and Fine Gael’s common sense and pragmatic approach will see a major shift in this policy for good”.

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