HR BLOG: Life begins at 65!

Wind back five years and employment law looked quite different from now!

No National Living Wage, no SPL, and a Default Retirement Age that allowed firms to retire employees at 65 – so long as they’d followed the Statutory Retirement Procedures.

This though is no more, as in 2011 the Default Retirement Age was abolished. Now, only organisations that can justify a retirement age are allowed to retain one, usually on the basis of physical exertion required: so, for example, The Fire Brigade.

Only 3% of organisations actually chose and were able to justify retaining this. A huge contrast from before! We think this is reflective of a wider changing of attitude towards older workers – perhaps accelerated by the abolishment of the retirement age and the ever rising retirement age. More and more over 65s are staying in work, enjoying it, and helping their employers grow. They’re taking advantage of the extra training on offer that’s allowing them to pursue new roles in firms with new responsibilities. The right to request flexible working now should give them the ability to work for even longer.

Those who predicted doom and gloom post the changes, have they been proven wrong? Are employers opening their eyes to the benefits of an ageing workforce? Have managers got the tools to manage older workers?

The ‘65s and over’ talent pool is vast and still relatively untapped. Their skills and experience are vital, and their presence is overwhelmingly welcomed by fellow workers and customers alike. McDonalds saw a real boost in staff happiness in their restaurants when employing a multi-generational workforce, and found that customers liked to see a good mix too. B&Q also enjoy these benefits on their shop floor. Albert Billington, their oldest employee, will tell you that.

The gloomsters predictions haven’t as of yet become reality. A huge surge in demand for performance management was predicted but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Without doubt though employers are and will in future have to have more difficult capability conversations with their staff, these aren’t easy for both parties and we’d suggest you always seek advice first.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.