Is mandatory retirement legal?

Region: Ontario Answer # 1735

In Canada, both federal and provincial human rights codes protect Canadians from age discrimination.

Ontario`s Human Rights Code protects anyone aged 18 and over against discrimination in employment on the basis of their age.  Specifically, the Code prohibits mandatory retirement, protecting employees aged 65 or more from being forced to retire, except in those cases where the retirement age can be justified as a “bona fide occupational requirement”. A bona fide occupational requirement is an employment requirement or qualification that is necessary because of the nature of the employment.

The Code specifies three rules for employers:

  1. They cannot refuse to hire, train or promote people because of their age;
  2. They cannot unfairly target older workers, or other age groups, when it comes to reducing staff or reorganizing; and
  3. They must make sure that the workplace is free from discrimination, is inclusive, and respects and supports the needs of all its workers, including older employees.

Under the law, people who are aged 65 and older and are employed, are still eligible for government benefits such as the Ontario Drug Benefit Program and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).


Federal employees

In 2012, amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code were brought into force to prohibit federally regulated employers from setting a mandatory retirement age. As with Ontario’s Human Rights Code, this does not apply in situations where there is a bona fide occupational requirement. In such cases, the employer may test the skills and aptitudes required by an employee to ensure that he or she can perform the essential components of a job in a safe, efficient and reliable manner.

Any employee aged 65 and older who believes they are being discriminated against in their job because of their age, can file a complaint of age discrimination with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. More information about the laws concerning mandatory retirement in Ontario can be found from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

For more information about federal laws and mandatory retirement, refer to the Government of Canada’s labour standards for federal workers.


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