Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Encouraging labour market activity among 60-64 year olds

This not very sexy sounding report from the Dept. of Work and Pensions presents the findings of a qualitative research study which explored how to best encourage the 60-64 age group to take up or remain in work.

Key findings

  • Flexible working, particularly part-time and short-term contracts, was favoured among those research participants who wanted to work longer.
  • Those who did not wish to work on typically felt that they had worked for long enough. There were strong gender differences, with women much more likely to mention social reasons for continuing to work, whereas the men were more inclined to feel that they had already ‘done their bit’.
  • Health, caring and financial circumstances interacted to affect decisions about whether or not to continue working. Among those who defined their current health as ‘good’ or ‘reasonable’, concern about a change in their health status coloured the way they thought about working on, with many wanting to enjoy their retirement ‘while their health lasts’. Dual caring responsibilities (for partner or parent as well as grandchildren) emerged as a major issue for a number of research participants.
  • Many respondents were reacting to events as they unfolded and often with incomplete knowledge about benefits and pensions, their likely retirement income and of the prevailing policy situation, such as changes to the State Pension (for example, equalisation or State Pension deferral). These circumstances meant that respondents found it difficult to make clear plans. This lack of knowledge coupled with a general climate of distrust about pensions and government policy, acted as a significant barrier to respondents’ willingness to engage with the Extending Working Life initiatives.
  • Real or perceived factors, such as benefits traps or tax on pensions acted as a disincentive for respondents to get back to work. Some respondents had used the services of Jobcentres at some stage in their working lives. While some of these respondents reported positive experiences of the service they had received, the majority had negative experiences and generally older respondents did not think they would use Jobcentre Plus to help them back into work.
  • Most respondents had heard about the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, but many had erroneous assumptions about the implications for retirement age. As well as those who stated explicitly that they thought retirement was now completely open-ended, many of the more negative viewpoints (forcing people to work longer; blocking jobs for younger people) also implicitly reflected the notion that there was now no retirement age.


Rita@Goldivas said...

The main problem is finding willing employers!

Barrie Hopson said...

You are absolutely correct Rita. About 66% of UK employers have abandoned statutory retirement which is legally enforceable in the UK. But there are still too many who just use it as an excuse to get rid of people without embarrassment. And of course right now it is getting worse. I pick up from the US that it is the younger groups that are suffering more than the boomers. Difficult to find out what the comparable situation is here.