GSK considers healthcare policy for older staff

EB Connect 2013: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is deciding how to create a healthcare policy for older employees.

The pharmaceutical business’s diversity and inclusiveness team has launched a think tank to consider possible options, according to doctor Arif Jiwany, an occupational health physician at GSK. The strategy will be formulated over the next three to four years. “During this time we need to think over some specifications,” said.

Speaking at Employee Benefits Connect on 1 March, Jiwany said the policy would seek to promote a culture that values age and experience; enables flexible working practices, including shorter days and shorter weeks; offers jobs that take into account any variance in employees’ mental and physical capabilities relating to old age; considers the training needs of GSK’s older population and designs a curriculum to meet these needs. 

He added that a key focus of the project will be to ensure there are no holes in GSK’s policies and practices relating to the management of older workers.

But Jiwany admitted that GSK has little experience of dealing with an ageing workforce. Just 2% (260) of the employer’s 13,000 UK-based employees  are over 60 years of age, which Jiwany attributed to GSK’s generous retirement benefits. Just 20 employees are over the age of 65.

GSK currently offers a range of healthcare benefits, including an onsite occupational health department, a private medical insurance plan provided by Cigna HealthCare, physio, an employee assistance programme, including cognitive behavioural therapy, and health screening.

IT also offers energy and resilience programmes through its own coaching division to help employees remain at work.

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Jiwany said: “Remaining at work is associated with better health outcomes, even for older workers.”

GSK’s healthcare policy is underpinned by its desire to create and maintain a healthy resilient, high-performing workforce.