Employers encouraged to do more to support older workers

The ageing workforce was a key future health and wellbeing issue debate by Dame Carol Black and Dr Justin Varney at Health & Wellbeing @ Work

With a record number of people aged 50 or older in employment, the Government and employers should ensure that working practices cater for the needs of older people, according to an age awareness charity.

The Centre for Ageing Better said employers should make sure they support older workers to help them enjoy a fulfilling career for longer, utilise their skills and help them save for retirement.

Its comments came as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than 10 million people aged 50 or older were in employment between September and November 2017, accounting for almost a third (31%) of the national workforce.

Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said supporting older workers to remain in employment is “critical to economic growth and to meeting the country’s future labour market needs”.

She said: “Employers need to recognise the value of their growing older workforce and ensure that their working cultures and practices are inclusive and don’t disadvantage older workers.

“This means giving access to flexible working patterns and workplace adjustments for those with health needs or caring responsibilities, ensuring older workers have the same opportunities for learning and career progression, and tackling age bias in recruitment.”

Despite 71.5% of people aged 50-65 being in work, the Centre for Ageing Better claimed that around one million older people were “involuntarily workless”, meaning they were out of work for a range of reasons including redundancy, caring responsibilities or ill health.

According to a study led by University of Birmingham Business School, workers who identified as professionals were more likely to continue working in a part-time role than retire completely, though not for financial gain. Those with “disjointed” careers, with periods in and out of work, were likely to continue working after retirement age in some capacity, such as self-employment, because they did not see retirement as an option.

ONS analysis of gender pay gap data last week found that the pay gap peaks in the age 50-59 bracket, which it suggested was due to women taking a break from their careers to have children and allowing men to “accumulate more experience”.

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