A new report from Age UK has called for every worker to be able to work flexibly unless a business can justify otherwise.
The report, entitled ‘A Means to Many Ends’, has looked at the impact and availability of flexible working in the UK. Flexible working practices include working from home, doing flexitime or different working hours, or simply being able to swap shifts.
Unleashing older workers
Age UK believes that an important way to unleash the full potential of Britain’s older workers, many of whom are unable to work conventional hours because of caring responsibilities and the need to balance other personal issues with work, is to change the UK’s traditional and more rigid approach to work.
These changes, the charity says, would enable older people to use their years of experience to contribute to the economy and extend their working lives, delaying taking retirement.
This would also remove the stigma around flexible working and encourage employers to examine how the practice could benefit their organisation.
Nearly a million over-64s are still working
Statistics from Age UK indicate that there are currently nearly 900,000 people in the UK working past the age of 64 and nearly 8 million people aged 50-64 who are employed or actively seeking employment.
But a further 735,000 people aged 50 and over want to work but are economically inactive. Factors including the UK’s ageing population, rising State Pension age and poor private pension return, mean in the future this number is likely to get even bigger.
Age UK’s Charity Director General, Michelle Mitchell said, ‘With their skills and knowledge, older workers are an invaluable asset to the UK economy. Yet, far too many people aged 50 and over are locked out of the job market because they are unable to work conventional hours, often because they have to care for a relative or have health issues.
‘In these tough economic times when the UK needs to make the most of its resources, it is just common sense for the Government and employers to embrace flexible working.’