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Compulsory Retirement


Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Report No.1 - August 1996

This report deals with complaints by four pilots who were compulsorily retired at age 60 from their employment with a major airline. The complainants submitted that the decision, taken pursuant to company policy, constituted discrimination on the ground of age . The respondent submitted that the age restriction was an inherent requirement of the job based on safety and operational considerations and did not amount to discrimination. Attempts to conciliate the complaints were unsuccessful.

The Human Rights Commissioner found that the policy of compulsory retirement upon attaining the age of 60 constituted discrimination on the basis of age. He found it not to be an inherent requirement of the job of an airline pilot that he or she be under the age of 60. He recommended, among other things, that compensation be paid to the complainants and the airline discontinue its policy of compulsory retirement of pilots and other employees at age 60.

Compulsory retirement restricts equal opportunity on the basis of age. The Human Rights Commissioner recommended the repeal of compulsory retirement provisions in the Public Service Act 1922 and in other federal legislation. He also recommended that the Commonwealth legislate to provide a comprehensive national prohibition of age discrimination.

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