End to mandatory retirement for federally regulated employees

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The federal government has officially changed certain provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act which currently permit federally regulated employers to force employees to retire at a specified retirement age.

The amendments to the Act form part of overall Bill C-13, Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act, which received Royal Assent on December 15, 2011 and will become law on December 15, 2012.

Following the enforcement of the Bill, federally regulated employers will no longer be permitted to enforce policies or practices which result in forced retirement upon reaching a predetermined age.

However, employment law specialists at Stikeman Elliott noted that the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which provide that a practice will not be considered discriminatory if such practice is based on a bona fide occupational requirement, remain in effect.

Accordingly, certain employers may still be permitted to apply mandatory retirement policies without such policies being viewed as discriminatory or a violation of the new law.

Bill C-13 is in fact bringing federal legislation in line with the laws already in place on this issue in most provinces. With minor exceptions, all Canadian provinces have already put an end to mandatory retirement.

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