My employer keeps asking me when I’m going to retire. Can they do that?
Your employer cannot ask you when you’re going to retire in a way that makes you feel pressured to retire. If they keep asking you that question then they may be violating your human rights.
Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects all persons aged 18 and over from being discriminated at work because of their age. This means that employers cannot decide to hire, promote, train, or fire any employee because of their age. This applies even when an employer wants to reduce the number of employees working for the company.
Your retirement must be voluntary. In most jobs, your employer cannot force you to retire:
- at a particular age, or
- before you want to.
Your employer’s allowed to offer a retirement program to people of a certain age — usually around age 60 or 65. When you’re close to that age your employer’s allowed to share information about the program with you. They can also offer an early retirement program.
If you choose to take part in a retirement program, it must be voluntary. If you feel your employer harassed you until you signed up for the program, then it’s not voluntary. If you feel you didn’t really have a choice, that isn’t voluntary.
Exceptions to the rule
In some rare situations, an employer may be allowed to force an employee to retire at a particular age. This is only allowed if there’s a specific connection between age and a person’s ability to do that particular job. This is called a bona fide requirement or BFR. For example, the courts have said that a mandatory retirement age for firefighters is a BFR. Your employer must be able to prove that there really is a BFR. They must also be able to prove that it’s impossible to test you individually to see if you’re still able to do the job