Retirement age situation clarified
Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, has today released her declaratory judgment in the case between Otago University and its principal campus unions, the Association of University Staff (AUS) and the Public Service Association.
AUS Executive Director, Rob Crozier, said in Wellington today that the judgment was a victory for common sense.
“Otago University management sought to continue to be able to make people retire when they reach age 65, even though the Human Rights Act had made that approach unlawful,” said Mr Crozier.
“The case hinged on the implications of the Human Rights Act for staff who were employed prior to 1 April 1992 and whose contract of employment continued to contain a retirement age provision.
“The judge has declared that section 149(2) of the Human Rights Act 1991 does not permit variation or confirmation of a retirement age specified in an employment contract unless the employment contract was in force on 1 April 1992 and remains in force.
“It is possible that a small number of employees not covered by the unions’ collective employment contract could still face compulsory retirement.
“The Human Rights Commission supported the restrictive interpretation that the unions were arguing for and which the Court adopted,” he said.
Rob Crozier: (04) 915 6691 (wk) 021 375 661
Cheyne (counsel for AUS) : 03 379 5718 021 343