Why is the number of over-70 workers now doubling?

What does this mean for HR and recruiters?

Recent research has shown that the number of people over the age of 70 who are still working has more than doubled in the last ten years. The figure is now at nearly half a million. The greatest growth has been in the number of men working, increasing by 187,000 with women following at 99,000. What does this mean for HR and recruiters?

The first thing is that older workers (those over pension age) don’t pay national insurance so that removes the employer’s liability too, making this group financially attractive.

Aside from the obvious financial impact on those working (and the chance to increase their pension contributions), there are health and social benefits associated with continuing to work. We are living longer so full-time retirement at age 60 or 65 leaves us a lot of life to fill if we do not have a job.

We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning and with more employers offering the opportunity of flexible or part-time working, older workers have the choice of combining their leisure activities with the opportunity to earn extra income. On the face of it, this seems like a win-win, but not everyone is so happy with the figures.

The Resolution Foundation says that the UK is still behind other similar countries in relation to the number of older workers in the labour market. The Foundation says that the Government should further relax the rules about claiming pensions to make it easier for older people. The Foundation adds that the Government should also do more to help enable people with caring responsibilities or health problems to be able to continue in the workplace.

The charity Independent Age says that the increase in the number of people working is more to do with pensioner poverty, indicating that nearly two million people of pension age (that’s about one in every six) live in poverty and another 226 join that number on a daily basis.

Another key dynamic in the current and future workforce is, according to the Centre for Ageing Better, that there are fewer young people joining the labour market to replace those who do retire. The Centre suggests that employers should adopt more flexible working policies and open more jobs for part-time working in order to cater for this and other variables such as skills shortages and that they should actively attract more older workers.

The number of older workers who take sick leave is still lower than that of younger workers, which makes employing over 70s an even more attractive proposition for employers. Anecdotally, they have a better work ethic which is similarly good news for HR.

Clearly, organisations must comply with the law and take into account all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion, but for a number of very good reasons, the over-70 workforce clearly has a great deal to offer.

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