Now that there is no statutory retirement age, many people work well into their 60’s and early 70’s and sometimes this creates difficulties. Take the recent case of an employee whose hearing was deteriorating to such an extent that they were finding it increasingly difficult to continue in their work. The employers knew this and appeared sympathetic and reasonable. Ultimately it was agreed that the employee concerned would simply retire and receive a nominal payment to mark the fact that they had worked loyally for the company concerned for over 30 years. Fortunately the employee concerned took advice.
Further discussion indicated that the hearing problem was not simply a gradual deterioration because of their age. It was instead a serious and chronic condition. Medical advice was obtained which confirmed that (in the view of the doctors) the employee concerned was suffering from a disability as defined by the Equality Act. This meant that the employee concerned did not just have to retire because they found the workplace difficult. Instead the employer was obliged to consider making reasonable adjustments which would permit the employee to continue in employment if they wished to do so.
Unfortunately by then the employment had already terminated. Because the hearing difficulties were well known to the employer before the termination it was possible for the employee concerned to claim that they had been discriminated against by virtue of their disability. No consideration had been given to adjustment prior to termination of the employment.A significant settlement was subsequently negotiated. It just shows that it is always worth checking before just giving up work because “it all seems too much”.