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EHR unveils ideas to address ageing UK workforce

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  • EHR unveils ideas to address ageing UK workforce

UK - Abolishing the default retirement age (DRA) alone will have "little impact" on extending people's working life, according to research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. So the organisation has launched a set of proposals for changes to employment policies, to address the challenges of an ageing workforce.

The removal of the UK default retirement age of 65 years is one of the main proposals put forward by the Commission. But it is accompanied by recommendations extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, as well as improved training and development for older workers and a review of recruitment practices to prevent discrimination.

Findings from its survey of around 1500 employees aged 50-75 years old - in 'Working Better: The over 50s, the new work generation' - showed 62% of women over the age of 50 and 59% of men want to continue working beyond state pension age, which will equalise at 65 by 2020.

The proposals were published ahead of the government's planned review of the DRA later this year.

The report also noted that extending working lives by one and a half years could reduce government borrowing by 1% of GDP, equivalent to around £15bn (€17bn). (See earlier IPE article: Retirement age review may cause DB admin headache)

However, the organisation added: "Our research suggests that abolishing the DRA will have little impact on extending working life on its own. It must be accompanied by a concerted drive by government, employers and agencies, including the Commission, to tackle stereotypes and to meet the health, caring and work needs of the over 50s."

Figures suggested 64% of women and 24% of men want to remain 'economically active' beyond the state pension age, and 40% of respondents admitted they want to keep existing jobs but have greater flexibility over the hours and days they work. In contrast, 10% of men and 7% of women would like to set up their own businesses after they reach the state pension age.

Research also suggested that while financial necessity is the most important reason to continue working for 50% of those aged 50-59 years, this drops to one-third for the 60-64 year olds and to just one in seven among the 65-75 age range. That said, a growing factor for continued working is the need to provide financial support to others, as nearly 40% of 50-55 year olds take on care responsibilities for children or adults.

Baroness Margaret Prosser, deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the 'Working Better' initiative and the new policy proposals were designed to help develop a way of working based on the demographics of today's populations, and move away from earlier systems established when people did not live long after reaching state pension age.

"Keeping older Britons healthy and in the workforce also benefits the economy more broadly by decreasing welfare costs and increasing the spending power of older Britons," she argued.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email nyree.stewart@ipe.com

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