This article was featured in The Telegraph on the 14 November 2011
The abolition of the default retirement age hides potential issues for companies say lawyers An EU directive covering commercial agents is threatening to cause retirement pension headaches for businesses employing them.
They have emerged as a ‘special case in the treatment of pensions following the abolition of the default retirement age which gives employees the right to continue working after 65. Lawyers say the risk of conflict has loomed between Britains now flexible retirement rules and the provisions of a 1994 EU directive, bitterly opposed at the time, introducing German style protection for commercial agents.
The rules give them the right to claim compensation for lost earnings if they retire early and lawyers see problems emerging in cases where retirement age is the crucial issue between employers and agents.
Stephen Sidkin, a partner with solicitors Fox Williams, has researched and highlighted the issues and says many employers are not aware of the implications. Britain has an estimated 20,000 commercial agents but the figure does not include overseas employees. Mr Sidkin feels complications in the current set-up emerged with a flawed ruling in a legal dispute involving an agent seven years ago when the decision was linked to the default retirement regime.
Only a handful of compensation cases have reached the courts. One of the biggest was said to involve a claim for almost 30m.