Occupational physicians deal with many issues from both employees and employers as a consequence of the UK workforce getting older.
There are more over fifties in employment in the UK than ever before and the employment rate of older people is on the increase. In August 2016 over 1.2 million people were working beyond age 65. Several factors have contributed to this ageing of the workforce.
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- People born post-World War II to 1964 are now in their fifties and sixties; the first reached the age of 70 years in 2016
- The UK default retirement age was abolished in 2011 making it is unlawful to compulsorily retire an employee because of age, unless it can be justified objectively as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Consequently people can work for as long as they want and are able. Older workers can still retire voluntarily and draw any occupational pension to which they are entitled
- Falling birth rates and increased lifespans put pressure on economies, public finances and pension schemes. People will have to work longer to meet labour market needs and to have adequate retirement income as they live longer
- State pension is increasing from 60 for women and 65 for men. From 2020, both men's and women’s state pension ages will be 66, increasing to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and then linked to life expectancy thereafter. The government will review state pension age at least once every five years. The timetable for the foreseen increase in state pension age to 68 could be accelerated as a result of a future review
This guidance focusses on the occupational factors of an ageing workforce. While health is a determinant of how long people continue to work there are also emotional, personal and financial factors. Work brings many benefits including self esteem, companionship and a salary. The employment status of an employee’s partner, caring responsibilities, hobbies and interests, relationships at and outside of work and financial security all influence a person’s decision to retire or to continue to work.
Ageing and the workplace (PDF)