Age Limits and Recruitment - Gardaí entry age limit increased - previous law found to be discriminatory. | Fieldfisher
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Age Limits and Recruitment - Gardaí entry age limit increased - previous law found to be discriminatory.




The age entry requirements for Gardaí recruitment changed significantly after the launch of a new recruitment drive last month. This follows a ruling by the Labour Court in February 2023 that the previous regime was discriminatory on the grounds of age.

A new statutory instrument SI 611/2023, amends SI 470/2013 to allow applicants up to the age of 50 to join An Garda Síochána. Previously, the age limit was 35.

This change follows the Labour Court decision in Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform v Roland Boyle (EDA234).


This litigation goes all the way back to 2007 when Mr Boyle ("the Complainant") sought to join the Gardaí but was refused as he was 48 (and over the age of 35). This refusal was based on the relevant Garda Regulations in place at the time, which had set a maximum age limit for entry as a trainee Gardaí at 35. The Complainant brought a case to the Equality Tribunal – the predecessor of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in the first instance and the matter then progressed to the Labour Court.


An Garda Síochána submitted that the Garda age limit of 35 was justified on the basis that the high level of fitness, required as part of the job, was inevitably related to a particular age.

The Labour Court noted that no evidence was produced in respect of the fitness levels of the current membership of An Garda Síochána. The Court further observed that there was no evidence to indicate that Gardaí of a certain age:

(a) could not carry out all of their duties,

(b) were being assigned to lighter duties on medical grounds, or

(c) had higher levels of absences or injury, as compared to younger members of the force.

Accordingly, the Labour Court held that the age limit of 35 was discriminatory on the ground of age, upholding the previous compensation awarded by the Equality Tribunal (€12,700).


Much of the time our commentary in this area is focused on older age limits, and typically mandatory retirement ages or age discrimination issues in promotion disputes. However, age issues can also arise at the recruitment stage.

From an employment law perspective, employers should be aware of their obligations if setting age limits at recruitment level (or indeed at retirement). Any such limits must constitute a genuine occupational requirement and the objectives sought in that regard should be legitimate and proportionate.

Barry Walsh, Greta Siskauskaite and Andrew Murphy

This document is for general guidance only and not intended as professional advice. Advice should always be taken before acting on any of the issues identified