Employers should look at benefits for rising number of older workers

The number of people aged 65 and over in employment has reached one million for the first time, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Its Labour market statistics, June 2013, found that, of the 29.76 million people in employment, 1,030,000 were over 65, up by 96,000 in the period between February and April 2013, compared with the period between February and April 2012.

According to the ONS, this rise is partly due to more people staying on in work and partly because the population now includes more people of this age group.

It also found that the number of people in work and the employment rate for those aged 65 and over are the highest since comparable records began in 1992.

Chris Jessop, managing director, UK and Europe at Axa PPP Healthcare, said: “For employers, having an older workforce will necessitate a more proactive approach to managing employee health because, at present, too much of the nation’s workforce is not fit to age.

“Lifestyle-related problems linked to lack of exercise and poor diet are the chief culprits. Without positive intervention, the bottom line could suffer as long-term illnesses, commonly occurring in tandem, take an increasing toll on performance and productivity.

“But getting older needn’t mean poorer health. By taking positive steps now to improve health and fitness, workers can continue to perform well into their 80s. With the number of older workers growing apace, employee health must become a priority and play its rightful part in business continuity management.”

Graham Vidler, director of communications and engagement at the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest), added: “That so many older workers continue out of financial necessity should be a wake-up call about the state of the nation’s current retirement plans.

“Too many people still have no choice about whether they can stop working or not when they reach retirement age.

“The government’s workplace pensions reforms mean millions more people now have a chance to save a bit more for their future, but we cannot afford to be complacent.

“Nest has found that 80% of those who will qualify for automatic-enrolment plan to work as long as they can, revealing a big lack of confidence in what they have currently set aside.”