Million more over 50’s working part-time compared to a decade ago as employees reject ‘cold turkey retirement’

Latest government data reveals that the UK’s part-time workforce is being driven by the over-50’s more than any other age group

Figures assessed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) assessed by Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice website for the over-50’s, has found that of the 8.6 million part-time workers in the UK today, 3.4 million of them are aged 50 and over. This is a significant increase of 912,000 (or 37%) in a decade.

In comparison, there are only 2 million people aged 30 and under working part-time, and 3.2 million part-time workers aged 30 to 49. Ten years ago, it was the younger working market of 30 to 49 year olds driving part-time work at 41 percent (3.1 million) of all part-time employees, followed by the over 50s at 33 percent (2.5 million) and under 30s at 26 per cent (2 million).

Older workers are now hesitant to have a retirement which completely cuts them off from the working world and are preferring to do some part-time hours during this time.

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said: “Whilst part-time work has historically been associated with students and those seeking flexible working to start families, today it has become an increasingly popular choice for older workers who are shunning the idea of a ‘cold turkey’ retirement in favour of a gradual shift via a part-time working week instead.”

The data shows that part-time work is growing in popularity amongst those in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Mr Lewis said that this is due to various factors such as increasing life expectancy meaning that the need to top up pension pots while possible is emphasised.

Furthermore, rises to the state pension age and the rapid equalisation of the women’s state pension age have meant that many more people are having to continue working for longer.

“Importantly however, there is also a growing understanding of the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement such as staying active, socially connected and maintaining a sense of fulfilment,” the company founder added.

‘With generational lows in the unemployment rate, the over 50s offer an exciting, talented and up to now largely untapped opportunity to many employers who are struggling to plug a skills and jobs gap.”

Patrick Thomson, senior Programme Manager, Centre for Ageing Better, said: “For many older people, working part-time is an active and positive choice. It can provide a better work-life balance and allow people with health conditions or caring responsibilities to continue to thrive at work.

“Many people who opt to work part-time in later life do so to because they like working. It can provide a better work-life balance and allow people with health conditions or caring responsibilities to continue to thrive at work. For many, the main benefit of working part-time in later life is the social aspects of work: contact with others, team-based working and forming professional and personal relationships through work.”

However he added that for others, part-time work is often the only work available to them because of “inflexible employers”.

“With many people living for longer, we need better models of how people can balance paid work with other important parts of life, allowing for more choice and opportunities in work and retirement.

“Employers need to adapt so that part-time work doesn’t mean low-paid work, or they risk missing out on the talents and experience of people in later life who can’t or don’t want to work full time.”

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