Journal article

Interrogating the ‘Dignity’ Argument for Mandatory Retirement: An Undignified Development?

Alysia Blackham

Industrial Law Journal | Oxford University Press (OUP) | Published : 2019


Human dignity is often cited as a justification and foundation for equality law. However, it is also used in some contexts to justify detracting from equal treatment, including in relation to mandatory retirement ages in the UK. Drawing on interdisciplinary scholarship from legal theory and industrial relations, this article argues case law on retirement ages adopts a limited approach to the notion of ‘dignity’, which is grounded in age stereotypes. It considers how a re-conceptualisation of ‘dignity’ might inform the future development of the law on retirement ages and proposes alternative ways to secure individual dignity in employment that do not depend on mandatory retirement ages.

University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Government through the Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council's Discovery Projects funding scheme (project DE170100228). The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Australian Research Council. The author is thankful to Prof. Colm O'Cinneide for his comments on an earlier version of this article.