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Drive to support older workers to overcome employment barriers

Published 28 July 2015

The changing face of the workplace is looking more mature - but a number of challenges remain for older workers.

It is predicted that by 2022 the number of people in the workforce aged 50 to State Pension age will have risen to 13.8 million and the number aged 16-49 will have reduced by 700,000.

As a result employers are now being urged to adopt age friendly policies.

According to new research from Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, existing employment policies are failing to address the biggest challenges facing older workers.

The report identified four key areas that need further consideration as a matter of urgency:

1. The complex relationship between employment, finances, health and care

2. Regional inequalities in health and employment opportunities

3. A labour market that is not working for older employees

4. A business environment that doesn’t support older workers

The default retirement age in the UK was abolished in 2011 when legislation was introduced which stopped employers compulsorily retiring workers at the age of 65.

The idea of sitting back, taking it easy, relaxing and enjoying your golden years has gone for many. For financial reasons an ever increasing number of employees are now forced to work way beyond the traditional retirement age.

In a drive to accommodate older workers recommendations for employers include promoting flexible working and vigorously combatting age discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their age.

Older employees provide a range of benefits such as experience, a great work ethic and life skills. A study found older workers also need half as many sick days as under-30s. Over 50s were less likely to call in sick due to minor illness such as the common cold, and were quicker to come back to work after being ill.

The government-backed Business Taskforce was set up in November 2014 with the aim of discussing and agreeing practical actions to identify and overcome barriers to later life working and promoting the value of older workers.

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