Ontario is following the lead of a number of other provinces and territories, and will phase out mandatory retirement on Dec. 12&#8212and employers need to be aware of what it means for them.

Companies will not be allowed to fire someone because they are 65. “But there are generally exceptions in place if the employer can defend the practice as being a bona fide occupational requirement,” said Amy Stahlke, director, legislation and compliance, Sun Life Financial at yesterday’s Employee Assistance Program Association of Toronto workshop.

Employers are not obligated to extend health and dental coverage, life insurance and disability benefits to those employees over the age of 65, but can if their insurance carrier offers such an option.

Workers will still be allowed to participate in pension plans, but the Income Tax Act prohibits employees from deferring their income attributable to pension plans past 69.

For employers who want a younger workforce, they will still be able to negotiate early retirement packages. “This is I think key for employers in unionized environments and non-unionized environments,” she said. “There’s nothing from preventing an employer from making it really enticing for someone to go before age 65.”

The end of mandatory retirement in Ontario may mean more people will take the opportunity to work past 65. According to Statistics Canada, 8.1% of those 65 and older were working in 2005, a rise of two percentage points since 2001. Still, the average retirement age is still between 61 and 62.

“In all provinces, there’s this trend towards mandatory retirement not being allowed,” Stahlke said. “Eventually all of Canada will be in a non-mandatory retirement kind of environment.”

To find out what mandatory retirement means for companies and individuals, click here.

For more information on mandatory retirement in different provinces and territories, visit the Human Resources and Social Development website.

To comment on this story email craig.sebastiano@rci.rogers.com.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com