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Managing the risks of an ageing workforce

The three years following the abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) have seen a marked increase in the number of people aged 65 or over who continue to work.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics1 report, there are currently 1.13 million workers in the UK, aged 65 or over, compared to 874,000 in 2011, when the DRA was finally phased out, close to a 30% increase.

This trajectory is set to continue. Currently in Britain there is a higher proportion of older people than at any time in recent history, with one in every six people aged over 65. By 2033 this figure is anticipated to rise to nearly one in four. Adding to this the expectation that one in every three newborns will now live to be a hundred, the demographic implications are clear.

Whether it is down to necessity, as a result of insufficient pension savings, the fact that we are living longer due to medical advancements or just our desire to work longer, it is indisputable that Britain’s workforce is getting older.

What does this mean for employers and is the subject even on their radar? QBE commissioned research in November 2014 among Senior HR decision makers in businesses across the UK to understand the extent to which, if at all, employers monitor and consider the age of their workforce.

It was striking to find that 60% of respondents did not know the percentage of their workforce who were above the state pension age; equally startling, 56% did not know how many of their current employees over 60 were planning to continue working beyond the state pension age.

This lack of awareness gives grounds for concern. From an employee health and wellbeing perspective, it could signal that Britain’s employers do not have the policies and support services in place that reflect the needs of all their workers.

This exposes older employees to work-related injury or illness and companies to the financial consequences of employee absence.

In this report, we present the wider research findings, consider the ramifications of an ageing workforce and provide practical advice for employers on how to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of their older workers.

Rosie Hewitt
Rehabilitation Manager, QBE European Operations

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