Research Handbook on EU Labour Law
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Research Handbook on EU Labour Law

Edited by Alan Bogg, Cathryn Costello and A. C.L. Davies

Research Handbook on EU Labour Law features contributions from leading scholars in the field. Part I addresses cross-cutting themes, such as the relationship between EU law and national law, the role of human rights in EU labour law, and the impact of austerity measures. In Part II, the contributors focus on topics in individual and collective labour law at EU level, including working time and job security. Finally, Part III offers a comprehensive overview of the EU’s interventions in equality law.
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Chapter 21: Age discrimination and EU labour rights law

Mark Freedland and Lucy Vickers


The aim of this chapter is to provide a general account of the development and working of EU law against age discrimination in employment in which that body of law is analysed and evaluated as the expression or realisation, however complete or incomplete it may be, of an EU labour right which we can think of as ‘the EU right to age equality in employment’ or ‘the EU right against age discrimination in employment’. For this purpose, the legal framework concerning age discrimination is first described in general terms (Section 1), and attention is then focused upon three areas or aspects of that body of law, namely those of discrimination against younger workers (Section 2), discrimination against older workers in general (Section 3), and finally the special case of retirement (Section 4). In this Introduction, we suggest a method for critical analysis of this body of law which, among other things, serves to explain why we single out retirement as a special case for discussion. This paves the way for some normative evaluations which are made throughout and are added to in the Conclusion to the chapter. Our suggestion for a method of critical analysis of EU employment age discrimination law focuses on the kinds and degrees of structural change to employment arrangements which are involved in its implementation; so it is the idea of ‘EU law against age discrimination in employment and structural change’. This might also be applicable to EU employment discrimination law on other grounds.

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