Employers urged to boost the number of older workers

Strategy highlights social and health benefits of working longer

by Emily Perryman – Health Insurance Daily

A new strategy is calling on employers to boost the number of older workers and ensure they are not writing people off once they reach a certain age.

It is estimated that by mid-2030s people aged 50 and over will comprise more than half of the UK adult population.

The government is encouraging people to take advantage of the opportunities that work can bring, including seeking out a new career if they are feeling unfulfilled at work.

A group of over 40 employers has spearheaded the new business approach to older workers.

As part of the new Fuller Working Lives strategy, ministers and business leaders have set out the social and health benefits of working longer.

Highlighting the need for businesses to retain, retrain and recruit older workers, the strategy outlines how a coalition of jobcentres and businesses can combine to support older workers to continue in their careers or take a new direction.

Secretary of state for work and pensions Damian Green said staying in work for a few more years can make a significant difference to someone’s physical and mental health.

“I urge all businesses to reassess the value of older workers. Nobody should write off hiring someone due to their age and it’s unacceptable that some older people are overlooked for roles they would suit completely,” he added.

The average age of leaving the labour market has increased over the past two decades, but it is still lower than it was in 1950 and is not keeping pace with increases in life expectancy.

A quarter of men and a third of women reaching state pension age have not worked for five years or more.

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Good work is important financially but is also a major source of social connections, good health, and provides a sense of purpose.”

Legislation has already been introduced to support Fuller Working Lives, including the removal of the Default Retirement Age and the introduction of the right for everyone to request flexible working.

To further support the employment of older workers, the government publishing a range of evidence to outline the benefits of working longer; and providing additional help for groups who may need more support getting into and staying in work, including people with long-term health conditions,

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said there is still a lot of ageism in the workplace and more needs to be done to create a level playing field for all older workers.