The House of Lords has handed down its opinion in the case of Rutherford and Bentley v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. This case involved claims for redundancy payments by two employees who were made redundant at the ages of 67 and 73. One of the employees also claimed unfair dismissal. The claimants sought to challenge UK law as contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 which states that employees aged 65 plus are not entitled to a statutory redundancy payment nor do they have the right (where there is no normal retirement age) not to be unfairly dismissed. The claimants based their challenge on the grounds that the law indirectly discriminated against men because more men than women work beyond the age of 65.
The House of Lords decided unanimously that the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 relating to unfair dismissal and redundancy payments for employees aged 65 and over did not indirectly discriminate against men. However, this decision will be overtaken by the new Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 which come in to force on 1 October 2006 and which will remove the upper age limits for redundancy payments and unfair dismissal claims