A new report by Age UK has called for businesses to offer flexible working – the lack of which it says is preventing many older people from staying in the workforce. Would flexible working entice you to stick with your job?
These days, many older workers are unable to commit to conventional working hours due to many reasons. Caring responsibilities are a factor, for example, where the high cost of childcare has left many grandparents to look after their grandkids. In turn this can prevent them from contributing to the economy.
Age UK thinks that if we change the UK’s traditional and more rigid approach to work, we could unleash the full potential of Britain’s older workers.
There certainly seems to be a case for the wider adoption of flexible working to enable older people to stay employed if they wish. Age UK’s statistics are fairly damning; there are apparently 735,000 people aged 50 and over wanting to work but who are unable to stay in the job market. And some 25% of carers under the age of 70 say that caring responsibilities affect their work.
The government acknowledges flexi working
The law currently entitles parents with children under the age of 16 and those with caring responsibilities to request flexible working. Last August the government issued a consultation document on extending this right to all employees, but this has yet to be made law.
However, we may see some movement on this soon. Jo Swinson, the new minister for employment relations, responded to Age UK’s report by saying that the government is ‘committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees’. She added:
‘Flexibility for older workers would help both employee and employer, ensuring we don’t lose valuable skills and experience whilst helping to manage the move towards retirement. We will publish our plans on a more flexible approach to working shortly’
It will be interesting to see how the government’s plans pan out.
Locked out of the job market
I personally think that changing lifestyles and alternative working patterns should be reflected in our employment conditions. Age UK’s report has highlighted that this isn’t always the case, with many older people locked out of the job market.
There’s clearly plenty more that needs to be done before we have a truly flexible approach to working – but is it something you want to see? Do you want businesses to offer the option to work from home, do different hours, or simply the ability to swap shifts?