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Most people jump for joy at the thought of retirement - or do they?

26 November 2010 #Employment

The evidence is that older workers are seen as valuable employees who bring vital skills, knowledge and experience to their jobs.  Negative stereotypes about their abilities seem to be declining.  The focus from managers is moving to talent and performance rather than age which is helping to reduce the wasteful effects of discrimination, with age no longer having such a strong and unfair influence on the way decisions are made about people in connection with recruitment, job performance or selection from redundancy. 

So what can employers do to support this ageing workforce, including their physical needs?  Some suggestions: 

  • The default retirement age and the statutory retirement procedures will be abolished from 1 October 2011 (with transitional arrangements being put in place from 6 April 2011).  Perhaps employers should remove any mandatory retirement age completely as it could be seen as demoralising and discriminatory?
  • Introduce flexible retirement options to allow organisations to draw on older workers` strengths and skills and make the transition to retirement less abrupt.  For example, flexible working options such as part time working, remote working, job sharing, compressed working weeks and reduced responsibilities. 
  • If pension considerations are a barrier, consider using employees as consultants after retirement.
  • Move away from negative stereotypes regarding older workers and demonstrate that older workers can be an important resource for organisations with their experience and skills.
  • Manage older workers` expectations about their careers and their work life balance in order to engage and motivate them. 
  • Make sure that training and skills development is provided on an "age-free" approach based on individual and business needs. Remember older workers do not always put themselves forward for training and development and this may need to be encouraged. 
  • Take a more thorough approach  to services such as occupational health throughout an employee`s working life, but particularly for older workers.  Health and wellbeing programmes are most effective when focused on individual needs rather than age based assumptions.
  • Employees in manual jobs may need to be subject to regular health and fitness checks and employees to be encouraged to look after their health.  Organisations need to be firm to not work people beyond an age when they are not physically and mentally capable. 
  • Monitor the organisation`s age and skills profile in order to help organisations improve succession planning and talent management.

Or should we encourage employees retire and relax!  Despite the debated health issues associated with retirement many older workers will want to carry on working for financial reasons and so the issue of an aging workforce is likely to be here to stay.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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