Ageing in the 21st century – work and older people

Work and older people

by Margaret Smith

Retirement – pros and cons

For many people retirement is a time of joy. They can look forward to having more time on their hands and retirement can be a chance to do things that they did not have time to do when they were working – for example, travel a bit or enrol on an adult education course.

For others though retirement can be a very difficult time as they make the transition from the world of work to a life of leisure. Often people miss the social life of mixing with work colleagues and friends, and then there is boredom as people find that there are not enough things to do to fill the day. The loss of a work role leads to people feeling they are no longer useful, especially if a lot of their identity has been tied up with work. As well, if people have not made adequate financial planning for their retirement, they all too often find themselves unable to manage as the State Pension is not enough. I think that sometimes it is worth carrying on working instead of retiring; whether that is staying on in your present job, retraining to take up a new job or coming out of retirement altogether to join the world of work again.

Age-friendly work policies

The way that we think about working and retirement is changing. More and more companies now have an age friendly policy – Barclays recently introduced an apprenticeship scheme for the over 50s. Also, many companies offer flexible working as older workers have caring responsibilities, looking after a spouse or partner, elderly relatives or grandchildren. The Government is planning further increases to the State Pension age. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against employees because of their age. People are now living longer and the Government’s Department of Work and Pensions has a target of getting 1 million older workers aged 50 – 69 into work by 2022.

You can also work now for as long as you want to. The Government abolished the Default Retirement Age in 2011. Before that employees were forced to retire at age 65, now employers can no longer ask their employees to leave when they have reached a certain age. The Government has created a climate whereby it is easier for older workers to remain in employment. So, if you feel healthy enough, maybe it is worth considering working for a few more years when you get older.

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