/ Money

Should we work till we drop?

Much has been made in the past few days of Corrie actress Betty Driver’s determination to work until she dropped. Could that be the answer to the looming pensions crisis and the government’s deficit-reduction plans?

Retirement has been all over the news lately – increasing life expectancy has combined with plunging stock markets, rising food and energy prices, dire savings rates and plummeting annuity rates to create a bleak picture for anyone coming up for retirement.

So, should we all simply keep on working until we pop our clogs? Not only could this boost the nation’s coffers with increased tax revenues and lower state pension payments, it would help keep us active.

In my view, of course we shouldn’t.

Give us a lengthy retirement

For many people, retirement is the reward for all those years of work, something to look forward to. It’s OK if you’re an actor (and possibly a Which? researcher…?), but for many it’s just not physically possible to keep working into our 70s and beyond. And last week’s employment statistics confirmed that there just aren’t enough jobs for all of us.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work for longer though – the current pension system wasn’t designed to support us for 30 years after retirement. Raising the retirement age to a more realistic level would also give us extra time to build up our pension pot, providing a bigger income when we finally do come to retire.

I’ve got a fair few years to go until I can retire – and it doesn’t really bother me if the government moves my state pension age back a few years. I love my job and it’s not physically demanding, so I’m sure I could carry on doing it right through my 60s.

Then again, I used to be a teacher and I can’t imagine wanting to stand in front of 30 hormonal teenagers when I’m pushing 70. The same goes for many builders, carers, firemen, soldiers – the list goes on.

Increasing the state pension age

However, I agree with the government’s move to link the state pension age directly to life expectancy, provided it isn’t set ridiculously high and there are suitable provisions made for those who have worked in physically arduous sectors.

But what would that mean for you? And is the next logical step that women should actually retire later than men, given their longer life expectancy… ?


The other barrier is when the older individuals block jobs for the younger and so we have a situation where you need to get people to retire.

There is also the issue when people who are in jobs they believe are secure, through no fault of themselves, are made redundant. I think that if someone is made redundant then it is up to the current employer to pay their wages at 100% until they have found another job or are retired.

That way we will have full employment!

Mikhail says:
19 October 2011

Sounds nice, but I don’t think that ‘they’ become redundant for ‘fun’, in most cases there are economic reasons for that, within the company. I think 3-6 months notice prior redundancy would be fair.

I do not understand why an older person in a job would be considered blocking jobs for a younger person any more than a younger person would be seen as blocking a job for an older person.

Fortunately there are now laws against this kind of discrimination.


Sadly they have not stopped the discrimination – If you are out of work at say 58 – the chances of even being put on a short list of applications is tiny – I know dozens in that position..

Equally if you are working at 67 (this will be effectively compulsory) then you are blocking the chances of a 25 year old gaining the experience required to qualify for a career.

Hate to point out there are over a million unemployed fit (often qualified) young people that NEED a career and will not get one as there are no jobs – and unemployment is getting worse.

I was lucky to be able to afford to retire early (55) as my previous professional job had lost its appeal and was becoming stressful. However after 1 year renovating a house and a couple of holidays I have started a “2nd career” volunteering for 2 charities which keeps me even busier for 5 days a week . I find it as enjoyable and stimulating as when I first began my chosen profession and I cant imagine a 2nd retirement.
Of course as its voluntary its less stressful and I can theoretically take holidays or days off when I want.

The problem with rules and legislations about retirement is that everyone is different. While one person WANTS to work until they die, another wants to retire early. My grandad and my dad were both workaholics and both worked until they died – but my family always said they would as that was in both of their characters. I still think, in an ideal world, people should get a chance to spend some of their life not working before they die!

As someone whose folks retired last month, I can say that some people are just born to work. If there is no daily routine for them to follow, they may as well “pack up and dig your own grave” to paraphrase the Old Man.

Since my Dad has retired, he has set up a production line in my Nana’s garage to create and sell walking sticks. What time does he go there in the morning? 9am, what time does he finish? 5pm and he gets free tea and scones all day from my Nana.

My Dad is an engineer by trade and he needs to get his hands dirty every day. At least this way he knows he hasn’t sold everything to try and make a business work. He’s doing it for himself and if he makes a little bit of money on the side, so be it.

As long as you have a choice, I don’t see any issues with working past your retirement age. My Dad couldn’t wait to retire but that was more to do with the politics of his shareholders rather than the work itself. Some people just want a simple life, you bite the corporate bullet for a bit to earn some cash and then return to doing what you love.

I’m commissioning him to build me a snare drum 🙂

frances says:
21 October 2011

Has anyone read “The End of Work” by Jeremy Rifkin ?

Playing golf all day while machines do the drudge is not a new idea,
but it is a fact that we no longer have to work as long as we do.

Companies downsize their workforce to the minimum for the sake of efficiency.
Governments are constantly talking up job growth to keep people out of mischief.

Perhaps it is time to take a look at our Monday to Friday 8 hours a day.
And consider leisure ahead of work.