Employers should pay greater focus to the training and performance management of older workers or face falling foul of the law when the default retirement age (DRA) is phased out, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The "Employee outlook: focus on an ageing workforce" survey released today suggests that older workers are often "neglected" when it comes to training and performance management.
The CIPD says that this highlights the need for employers to ensure that they are managing the performance of all employees effectively, particularly before the final phase-out of the DRA.
The report found that less than half of workers (46%) aged 65 and above have had a formal performance appraisal either once per year or more frequently, compared to 65% of all employees. In addition, 44% of employees aged 65 and above have not had a formal performance appraisal in the last two years or ever, compared to a survey average of 27%.
The report also found that older workers are much less likely to receive training, with half (51%) of those aged over 65 saying that they had received no training in the last three years, compared to 32% across all age groups.
The CIPD said that the phase-out of the DRA means that employers need to ensure that their performance management systems and practices focus as much on older workers as the rest of the workforce.
Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said: "The removal of the DRA will rightfully put a stop to lazy management of older workers, with employers forced to maximise the talents of an ageing workforce. Failure to address poor performance of older workers may also pave the way for discrimination claims following the phasing out of the DRA if there is a dispute over capability."
The survey also highlighted the importance of employers accommodating the physical requirements of older workers. Some 28% of older workers say that their physical ability has declined a lot and 51% say that their physical ability has declined a little.
Of those who felt their physical ability to do their job has declined as they got older, 76% said that their employer had made no adjustments. Where employers had made adjustments, employees report that access to occupational health services (7%), offering a reduction in hours (7%) and flexible working (6%) were the most common.
Worman added: "The survey shoots down the myth that workers' ability to do their job suddenly declines after they hit 65. However, the survey does show that employers need to do more to provide reasonable adjustments for workers of all ages to enable them to carry on working in light of physical or mental health difficulties, or indeed caring responsibilities, either for children or for an ageing spouse or partner."
"The coalition Government's plans to extend the right to request flexible working for all employees will encourage more employers to provide flexible modern workplaces in response to the needs of employees of all ages and, just as importantly, in response to the demands created by changing demographics in the labour market."
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