Employers urged to help older staff stay in work longer

A government minister has urged employers to keep up with changes in society and help older staff to keep working beyond the normal retirement age.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said: “How we all look at retirement is changing and the way in which government and businesses help older workers need to keep up with the times.”

Mr Webb’s comments followed a YouGov survey of 2,000 people over the age of 50. If found that nearly two-thirds of them no longer think that working full time and then stopping work altogether is the best way to retire, and around half of them would still like to be in work between 65 and 70.

Nearly 40% said that working part time or flexible hours before stopping work altogether would be the best way to retire. A further 25% said they would be interested in taking a few months off and then returning to work as an alternative to full retirement.

However, the survey also found that many older workers believe they are sometimes treated unfairly:

  • 23% feel they are viewed less favourably than younger workers
  • 15% of those not currently retired report experiencing age-based discrimination in the workplace
  • among those who have been unemployed at some point since turning 50 but are currently working, 41% agreed that their age affected their confidence in applying for jobs, and 53% agreed that they felt employers were not interested in hiring them because of their age.

From April, the government is rolling out a project that will see ‘older workers champions’ introduced into Jobcentres across every part of Britain. They will help tackle the age discrimination that can lead to much higher levels of long-term unemployment among over-50s than among their younger counterparts.

The government is also urging employers to support older staff in the workplace, such as by making changes to working patterns or finding alternative roles for those with age-related health difficulties.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said: “The results show there is no single view of retirement any more, but the message from older workers is clear; employers need to keep up with changes to society and we have to ensure over-50s have the skills in place to continue developing their careers throughout their working lives.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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