‘We have a duty to older employees’ Calls to support Brits working past state pension age

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There’s no limit as to how long a person can work into their later years. That said, some may opt to retire ahead of or at state pension age.

This week, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) updated its statistics on the economic labour market of individuals aged 50 or over.

It found the average age of labour market exit has increased over the past two decades.

In 2000, for instance, the average age of exit for men was 63.3 years old, increasing to 65.2 years old in 2020, an increase of 1.9 years.

The average age of exit for women was 61.2 years old in 2000, having since increased by 3.1 years to 64.3 years old in 2020.

During this time, changes to the state pension age – which are ongoing – have been felt.

However, despite the increase to the average age of exit from the labour market for both men and women, research has found more than 1.5 million older workers have felt discriminated against because of their age.

Worryingly, one in five (22 percent) workers over the age of 55 have felt discriminated against at work because of their age, new research from Canada Life has found.

With 39 percent of those over the age of 55 expecting to have to work beyond state pension age, the company has warned employers must ensure they are creating an environment where employees of all ages can thrive.

According to the research, the vast majority (86 percent) of those aged 55+ who plan on working beyond state pension age will stay in the same role – either because they enjoy it (46 percent), or because it’s what they know best (45 percent).

For a third (33 percent), however, it’s because they think it’s too late to try something new.

Paul Avis, Canada Life strategic propositions director, group insurance said: “Hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country host apprenticeship schemes every year, graduate recruitment programmes or summer internship initiatives.

“These are aimed at getting young people into the workforce and teaching them the skills they need to prosper in the future.

“What we don’t see is firms doing the same for older workers.

“On one hand, this is understandable – older workers have more experience, expertise and knowledge; they have seen multiple ‘business cycles’ and inevitably know how to do their jobs.

“But on the other hand, it does little to encourage older workers to seek out new opportunities, apply for new roles and build on their experience.

“And with one in five feeling discriminated against because of their age, employers need to do more to create an environment which caters to workers of all ages.”

Mr Avid added: “Commercially, it’s easy to understand why employers tend to focus on the recruitment and training of young workers, but we have a duty to our older employees too.

“A diverse workforce is a truly wonderful asset for any businesses to have, as it aids the sharing of skills and experience, and it brings different perspectives to the table.

“Without it, young people entering the workforce are missing out.

“Employers have faced a huge number of challenges this year, and as we look forward to 2021, we shouldn’t lose sight of treating all workers equally and fairly.”

So what can employers do to ensure they are catering for workers of all ages?

According to Cananda Life, older workers say that more part time opportunities are the most important asset an employer can offer (88 percent) to support and attract an older workforce, followed by flexible working (86 percent) and new skills training (82 percent).

Appropriate workplace benefits (82 percent) and employee support programmes (78 percent) are also important, the firm added.

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