OLDER WORKERS | The Key to Business Success

Are you one of the many employers missing out on talent because you are overlooking older workers?

Last month, the Women and Equalities Committee published a report which highlighted that over one million people over the age of 50 are out of employment but are willing to work as a result of discrimination, bias and outdated employment practices.

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People aged over 50 who are out of employment but willing to work as a result of discrimination

Why are employers scared to hire older workers?

For some peculiar reason, they are a number of common misconceptions about older workers.

 Some employers think they

  • are not tech-savvy
  • have less energy
  • find it hard to learn new things
  • have difficulty adapting to change
  • are prone to long-term health conditions
  • can have difficult relationship with younger line managers

But the truth is that these are sweeping generalisations. Older workers are an important component to any workforce. They can offer a wealth of business and life experience and are known to be loyal, reliable and hard-working workers.

How can the government support older workers?

The Women and Equalities Committee made some recommendations in their report. Three of the most important suggestions put forward include:

  • The government should require all public-sector employers and private and voluntary sector employers with more than 250 staff to make public the age profile of their workforce.
  • There are calls for all jobs to be advertised as flexible except if an employer can show ‘an immediate and continuing business case’ that this is not possible.
  • The government should create a statutory entitlement to five days’ paid carer’s leave and statutory right to four weeks of unpaid carer’s leave per year.

What can employers do to ensure that their organisation is more age diverse?

Despite laws in place to protect older workers, discrimination during the recruitment process is one of the most significant hurdles that older workers have to face. To combat discrimination, employers should review the wording of their job advertisements to assess whether it puts older workers off and reconsider where adverts are placed to ensure older workers can see them.

To counter bias against older workers, it is useful to provide training to all those involved in the selection and hiring process and to ensure decisions are made by more than just one person.

You can also give more thought to flexible working.  Employees may make a request for flexible working due to health concerns, having to look after grandchildren or caring for their parents. Line managers should be trained so they understand how to respond to statutory requests and know when they can say no. They should feel confident working with the employee to find solutions to employees concerns that benefit the organisation.

Finally, in order to retain older workers, it is beneficial to think about training opportunities. Learning new skills can help keep employees engaged and motivated about their work. It’s important to ensure that there are equal opportunities and managers in charge of offering training are not negatively impacted by bias or ageist attitudes.

If you would like to discuss how you can support older workers in your organisation, contact your Employment Law expert who can guide you.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

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