Tag: Age

Employing older adults improves diversity in business 

A new study has shown that 10% of over 70s are choosing to go back to work or delay retirement as a result of the pandemic. This is a trend that could see billions of pounds poured back into the economy.  

According to the results from the study called “Back on Track”, by Retirement Villages Group slowing down is the last thing on the minds of older adults with one in three (36%) over 70s saying that they have spent the last 16 months reflecting on their life goals, leading to an increased desire to now make up for lost time in both their personal and professional lives. 

Going back to work, whether for financial reasons or in pursuit of a more purposeful and active lifestyle, has become important to many with 7% looking to return to work and 3% wanting to delay retirement.   

With skill shortages in mind, Retirement Villages Group has calculated that 10% of over 70s heading back to or staying in work could add as much as £1.8billion to the UK economy each year. Also importantly, as the older generation are overlooked during talent acquisition processes, this promotes a much-needed shift in perspective when it comes to the value and experience older candidates bring to a business.  

The study showed that continued employment for the older workforce comes with many personal benefits such as improving financial or mental health. Among those that have or plan to go back to work, over half (52%) agree that the main motive is to boost their finances, while a third would like to alleviate boredom and a 21% would like to continue to contribute to society.  

Over one in three (39%) said that seeing more age diversity in the workplace would give them greater confidence to consider working opportunities themselves. Yet, encouragingly, the research also found that one in four (27%) older adults believe the pandemic has led to a more widespread view that older people have valuable life skills that society can benefit from. 

Will Bax, CEO of Retirement Villages Group, commented: “Today’s research confirms that older adults have a critical role in ensuring the ongoing diversity and vibrancy of our society and economy. The pandemic has brought this reality into sharp focus, with many people over 70 forced to isolate for prolonged periods, curbing the active, independent and sociable lifestyles they would normally lead and temporarily separating them from communities. 

“It’s vital, as we unlock from the pandemic, that we continue to reappraise how we view the great contribution of people over 70 to our culture and economy. Independent, positive ageing matters – not only to the long-term health and wellbeing of individuals, by keeping people out of hospitals and care homes for longer – but also to our society which is enriched by older people playing an active part. 

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Older workers are more at risk of redundancy than younger workers as the furlough scheme begins to taper off, according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation.

The think-tank’s Living Standards Audit 2021 explored the impact of the pandemic on the millions of workers furloughed since March 2020 and was released last week alongside the most recent HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) statistics.

The latest figures revealed that only one in five of those who were furloughed in February were still furloughed in May, and there was a sharp fall in the number of people on furlough in May, with 2.4 million using the scheme at the end of the month, a 1.2 million drop from the 3.5 million furloughed at the end of April.

However, the Resolution Foundation warned that older workers made up a disproportionate number of those still on the CJRS.

Its analysis found that of those aged 55-64 who were furloughed in February, more than a quarter (26%) were still furloughed in May, compared with only 6% of those aged 35-44 and 16% of those aged 18-44. Overall, it found those aged 45 and over made up more than half of all workers on furlough in May, a significant jump from 38% in the first lockdown.

‘Parked’ on furlough
Karl Handscomb, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Reopening the economy has led to a surge in people returning back to work from furlough, particularly young people in sectors like hospitality and leisure.

“But not everyone is back working. Over one in four older workers who were furloughed during the recent lockdown have remained parked on furlough during the reopening, and now face a higher risk of unemployment as the scheme starts to be unwound.

“It’s crucial that the Government does all it can to prevent rising unemployment among workers of all ages this Autumn when the furlough scheme ends.”

This view was echoed by Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, who said:  “Older people are returning to work far slower than younger people. Furlough numbers for the under 25s dropped like a stone as hospitality businesses reopened, but the older you were, the less likely you were to return to work, and furlough numbers for those aged 65 and over fell just 16%.”

Men, travel professionals also at risk
She added that other groups also remained vulnerable to job losses. “Men are slower to come off furlough too, and men have overtaken women using the scheme for the first time since the very earliest days of furlough. This owes much to the fact that so many have returned to hospitality businesses, and far more women work in these roles than men.

“In some industries, furlough is still widespread, most notably airlines at 57%, hotels at 57% and tour operators and travel agents at 51%, and in these industries the numbers on furlough dropped far more slowly than elsewhere.”

While the furlough scheme will continue until September, the changes to employer contributions that came into effect last week are likely to prove a trigger for some employers to make redundancies.

Starting from the beginning of July, employers have had to contribute at least part of the 80% of wages paid to furloughed workers. Their contribution is currently 10% (with the government paying the remaining 70%) though this will increase to 20% in August and September, before the scheme winds down.

Coles warned: “For those still stuck on furlough, there’s the risk their employers will be seriously reconsidering whether they can afford to keep them on now they are shouldering 10% of their wages – alongside pension and NI contributions. These questions will become even more pressing when the scheme tapers again in August.”

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The number of age discrimination employment tribunal claims soared last year, with complaints of this type rising more than any other category during the pandemic year.

According to research by over-50s digital community Rest Less, age discrimination claims increased by 74% last year, with the number of claims rising to 3,668, up from 2,112 in 2019.

This was despite the fact that overall, employment tribunal claims decreased last year, falling 1.5% to 180,430.

The figures highlight the disproportionate impact of the health crisis on the over-50s, with unemployment figures rising sharply among the demographic last year. The number of jobless over-50s rose 48% last year, while redundancies were up 79% on the previous year.

More claims on the horizon

The increase in claims was particularly pronounced in the last quarter of the year and Rest Less said it expected numbers would climb further in the coming months. It pointed out there are still more than one million over-50s on furlough and predicted “a new wave of redundancies may be on the horizon”.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented: ‘We know that the pandemic has exacerbated age discrimination in both the workplace and the recruitment process. We also know that once made redundant, older workers are more likely to drift into long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts, raising fears about the sustainability of the UK’s recovery if we don’t have a jobs plan that works for people of all ages.

“Age is a legally protected characteristic, just like gender, ethnicity, religion and disability but yet age discrimination is still widely seen as a socially acceptable form of prejudice. Age discrimination is unfair, unacceptable and has long-term damaging consequences on both the individuals involved and wider society. It needs to stop.”

Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, added that age discrimination often went overlooked by employers: “We know that age is often the last unspoken and accepted form of discrimination in the workplace. Our recent research with employers finds that while many said diversity and inclusion were important to them, few had strategies or approaches to make their workplaces age-inclusive. We know a third of people in their 50s and 60s feel their age disadvantages them in applying for jobs, higher than any other age group.”

Rest Less used data from the Quarterly Tribunal Statistics from the Ministry of Justice and the Labour Force Survey for its analysis.

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