Whether there exists a mandatory retirement age may depend on region or employer. Generally, many countries, including the US, are facing the prospect of people who may have to work at least to some extent once they reach legal retirement ages. Lengthening life and inability to stretch things like social security benefits far may mean many seniors continue working long after they’ve hit their late 60s, and the US even has laws that protect people against age discrimination. Anecdotal evidence suggests such laws are not enforced with great regularity and that finding jobs after a certain age could still be extremely difficult.
There are some places where a mandatory retirement age can be enforced. One of the biggest employers in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, applies this to bishops and priests, though not necessarily unilaterally. Shortages of priests in many parts of the world mean not all will retire at 70, for priests, or 75, for bishops. Many stay on because getting a replacement is too difficult, or they may stay on in a semi-retired capacity. They might say masses or perform some ceremonies but not have anything to do with running a parish or church. Interestingly, these ages do not apply to popes, who often live past their 70s.
Another example of mandatory retirement age exists in the UK, though this continues to be a very contentious subject, and one under which there is continued legal scrutiny. For the time being, people can be removed from work at the age of 65. This could very easily change in the future.
Typically, many countries do not have a mandatory retirement age, which gives them certain protections under a country’s laws. Employers typically don’t have the right to remove an employee from work due to his/her age. What makes this legal field incredibly rich, though, is what occurs if the employee’s removal is not due to age but to diminishing capacity. For instance, does an employer have to retain an employee who is a little slower or simply not as sharp as he once was? Seriously reduced capacity, as from disease, might call for asking an employee to step down, but what happens if the employee is just slightly affected and still can perform the job, though perhaps not as well as younger person?
These questions are expected to be ones asked repeatedly in employment law in a number of countries as more employees do work well past retirement age. Moreover, even in countries where there is not theoretical mandatory retirement age, there still can be in certain professions. Airline pilots in the US, and often elsewhere, usually must retire by 65. Before this change was made in 2007, the mandatory retirement age for pilots was 60.