UK government trails new plan to help retain older workers

The UK government is set to introduce an employer-led strategy aimed at encouraging older people to stay in work longer. It follows new data showing a preference for more flexible working in the run up to retirement.

The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday commented on new data that shows people nearing retirement age are also keen to work flexibly. Forty-seven per cent of workers responding to the latest British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS) said that they would work longer before retiring if their employer were to offer more flexible hours.The findings come at a time when the official employment figures show there are more older people in work than ever before. They also add weight to research that shows significant latent demand for flexible working at every career stage.

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Strategies for supporting the ageing workforce

Reflecting wider demographic trends, the government predicts that 30 per cent of British workers will be aged 50 and over by 2020, at a time the state pension age will rise to 66 for women to match the state pension age for men.Close to half of workers studied would work longer before retiring if their employer could offer them more flexible hours, according to the annual face-to-face survey of approximately 4,300 people in private households, aged 18 and over.Why people drop out of work early is one issue state pension age independent reviewer, former CBI director-general John Cridland, is seeking to build an understanding of in his latest consultation, which ends on 31 December.

New year, new approach

The BSAS findings also follow publication of the government’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies’ report recommending baby boomers stay in work to remain healthy.Employment minister Damian Hinds said: “There are more older people in work than ever before, but we know that many leave the workforce earlier than they’d like.“Having greater flexibility over when and for how long they work is clearly something that appeals to many people.“Encouragingly, we’re seeing more employers taking on older workers as they recognise the benefits of having them on the payroll.“But we want to go further to help more older people stay in employment, which is why in the new year we will publish a strategy led by employers on how we plan to do it.”

For related news and features, see our Human Resources section.

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