New recommendations focusing on older employees include:
- Treat employees on an individual basis, avoiding stereotypes, such as the assumption that an older employee may find learning new tasks difficult or a younger employee is less dependable.
- Offer and encourage older employees to undertake training if their job role changes, or if they may have received education and training some years ago.
- Help older employees to access health and screening services, such as cervical screening and eye tests, and allow time off to attend appointments.
- Address key life stages or events that may affect an older employee, such as offering carer’s leave or flexible working to care for grandchildren or parents.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “The number of older people in employment is set to increase – people are living longer and will be working well into their 60s and 70s. Protecting their health and wellbeing is essential if we are to maintain a healthy and diversified workforce. Our new recommendations will support older employees and help keep them in employment for longer by providing clarity on their needs.
“If their job role changes, the employer needs to support the individual to re-train, as well as accommodating changes in personal circumstance. These recommendations will ensure that an older person can continue working, with their health and wellbeing protected, until their retirement.”
In 2015, there were nearly 9.4 million people over the age of 50 in employment, of which around 1.17 million were aged 65 or over1.
By 2020, predictions say that older people will account for almost a third (32%) of the working population2 due to the increase in state pension age and longer life expectancy. It is also predicted that there will not be enough young people to fill the jobs available, leading to an increased reliance on older people to fulfil these roles3.
Professor John Britton from the University of Nottingham and chair of the group that developed the guideline, said: “It is more important than ever to protect the health and wellbeing of older people at work. Employers should help retain older employees, and support them as they grow older, as part of a broad diversity policy in the workplace. The recommendations set out in this guideline provide a general mechanism of how to approach this.”
Professor Mark Gabbay, Institute of Psychology Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, said: “As the workforce evolves, either from people wanting to or needing to work longer, employers need to consider their health and wellbeing needs – no matter their age. The role and leadership style of line managers is particularly important when supporting employees in the workplace.
“The group that put together the guideline felt that it was important to challenge stereotypical assumptions associated with both older and younger people in the workplace, such as the need for flexible working for younger people with children and older people with dependents. With this guideline, we want to encourage employers to think about the needs of their workers across all stages of life.”
Notes to Editors
- UK Labour Market: June 2015 (2015), Office for National Statistics
- National Populations Projections, 2012-based projections (2012), Office for National Statistics
- Managing a healthy ageing workforce: a national business imperative (2012), Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
About the guidance
- The updated workplace health guidance, which includes recommendations considering older employees, is available at /guidance/ng13
- The guideline covers all employees, but new recommendations were added that relate specifically to older employees. Original recommendations from when the guideline was first published in June 2015 were not changed.
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