January 25, 2010

UK: Let the over-65s keep on working, says Equality Commission

. LONDON, England / Daily Mail / News / January 25, 2010 By Chris Brooke The equality watchdog today backed radical plans to stop forcing workers into retirement at 65. Strengthening rights to allow flexible working for older people would also give a multi-billion pound boost to the British economy, it claims. Proposals announced today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission echo the views of Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, who announced a fast-track review of the retirement age earlier this month. Senior service: The equality watchdog is backing plans to stop forcing workers into retirement when they reach 65 (Posed by model) She said it was vital to smash the idea that people are 'past it' once they reach 65. The commission claims a new survey of older people indicates substantial support for change. Around 1,500 men and women aged between 50 and 75 took part in the poll. The survey found 24 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women want to keep working beyond the state pension age (due to be 65 for both sexes by 2020). And a significant number still believe they can be entrepreneurs after 'retirement.' One in ten men and seven per cent of women would like to set up their own business after reaching the retirement age. Almost two-thirds said they were as strong physically and mentally at work as they were in their 20s and 30s. While almost half of older workers were content with their jobs. The survey indicates many elderly enjoy work as a lifestyle factor. Enjoyment was the main reason for working for 27 per cent of people aged over 65. Flexible work arrangements are seen as vital, with 85 per cent of people over the retirement age saying availability of part-time or flexible work would be the key to getting a job. Baroness Margaret Prosser, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: 'Radical change is what older Britons are telling us needs to happen for them to stay in the workforce. 'Employers with a focus on recruiting and retaining older workers on flexible working arrangements are telling us it makes good business sense, allowing them to recruit and retain talent while meeting the flexible needs of their customers. 'Britain has experienced a skills exodus during the recession and as the economy recovers we face a very real threat of not having enough workers - a problem that is further exacerbated by the skills lost by many older workers being forced to retire at 65. 'Keeping older Britons healthy and in the workforce also benefits the economy more broadly by decreasing welfare costs and increasing the spending power of older Britons.' [rc] © Associated Newspapers Ltd