One in three workers aged 45 and over believes their employer discriminates based on age, a new survey reveals.
Bias against older staff can involve blocking their career progression, favouring younger workers, dismissing skills and experience, and overlooking them when offering training opportunities.
Some 73 per cent of workers aged in their 50s and 60s feel they can share invaluable skills, experience and knowledge with colleagues, but 16 per cent say this is not valued by their employer, according to the study by financial services firm Aviva.
Concern among older staff: A third of workers say there is age discrimination in their workplace
The most immediate harm that age discrimination does to older staff is to lower their morale and lessen job satisfaction, but they may also be sidelined and at worst ousted.
Pay rises and therefore pension contributions might be limited in the later years of someone’s career, and this can have a knock-on effect on income in retirement.
Aviva’s nationwide survey of more than 2,000 employees aged 45-plus found:
* Some 37 per cent of employees feel there is age discrimination in their workplace
* Workers aged 55-59 are most likely to think they face age discrimination
* This falls to just 25 per cent of workers aged 65-plus – perhaps because they are most likely to have avoided it to date
* More than half of workers aged 60-plus are not ready to retire, rising to 61 per cent among those aged 65-plus
Number crunching: Types of age discrimination experienced in the workplace, and proportion of over-45s who face this bias (Source: Aviva)
* Not feeling ready to retire, enjoying their job, and wanting social interaction, are among the reasons for continuing to work (see below for more on older people’s attitudes to work)
Aviva also surveyed more than 1,000 employers and found 19 per cent of them were concerned about age discrimination, and around the same proportion were thinking about how they would respond to the challenge of an ageing workforce.
The insurance giant Insurer has itself already piloted a ‘mid-life MOT’ scheme for 100 staff which covered issues such as skills, money situation, general wellbeing, and plans for later life.
It is now rolling this out to everyone in its workforce aged 45 and over.
The Government recently launched a similar plan to encourage people aged 40 and over do a personal, financial and physical stock-take, and iit is offering a ‘toolkit’ to employers interested in providing such services to workers.
Self-employed people can also ask for free MOT sessions from the Government-backed Pensions Advisory Service.
There are a record 10million workers aged over 50 at present and this number is expected to rise.
Aviva says that when records were started in 1992, workers aged 50-plus accounted for 21 per cent of UK employees, and this figure has now reached 32 per cent, based on the most recent official labour market statistics.
Attitudes to work: Many people in mid-life and older are resistant to retiring
Lindsey Rix, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, said: ‘Age should not be a barrier to opportunity – but our findings suggest employees are worried about age discrimination. We want to challenge this concern.
‘Evolving social and workplace trends mean we must all be prepared for a more fluid working life. The mid-life population offers invaluable skills and experience that companies are potentially missing out on.
‘Companies needs to take action – not doing so risks a punishing labour shortage in the years to come and a huge waste of talent and potential.’
Rix adds: ‘Mid-life employees offer a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise. However, often these employees can feel these valuable attributes are overlooked in favour of youth.
‘Far from being on the wind-down stages of their career however, our research shows that the UK’s mid-life employees remain enthusiastic and ambitious.
‘For many employees that believe there is age discrimination in the workplace, much of this discrimination is seen as an absence of the same career opportunities that are offered to their younger colleagues.
‘Mid-life employees’ eagerness to be afforded the same level of training and progression opportunities as their younger counterparts is a testament to this generation’s ambition.’
Older workers: There are a record 10million workers aged over 50 at present and this number is expected to rise. Numbers of employees shown are in the thousands – so actually in the millions (Source: Aviva)
UK employment rates by age group (Sources: Aviva and Office for National Statistics)
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