Report highlights missing over 50s in the workforce

A new report says 20,000 older workers over 50 who have been made redundant in the last five years have dropped out of the workforce.

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Read about National Older Workers Week

More than one in 10 over 50s have disappeared from the workforce in the past five years as a result of being made redundant, according to new research.

It finds that, among the 177,000 over 50s made redundant on an annual basis over the last five years, 20,000 are estimated to have left the workforce.

The ‘Working Late’ report by Legal & General Retail Retirement (LGRR) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), looks at the experiences of the over 50s and raises concerns about the impact of redundancy and employment-related changes on the age diversity of the UK workforce.

Based on a poll of over 2,000 older workers, it found that, among over 50s experiencing redundancy in the past five years, nearly two-thirds (62%) felt that their age was a contributing factor in this decision. The report says that in the period from 2007 to Q2 of 2021, the average rate of redundancy among the over 50s has been nearly a fifth higher than for the under 50s.

The study shows that older workers have been 17% more likely to face redundancy than younger workers on average. Despite a higher redundancy rate, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey, unemployment rates for over 50s tend to be lower than the rest of the working population. In part, this is likely impacted by the number of people who leave the workforce once being made redundant.

The report says more than a third (39%) of older workers who were made redundant in the past five years have had to change their retirement plans. This was also the case for those who experienced a reduction in their working hours (34%) or had their salary reduced (33%).

Meanwhile, 15% of those being placed on furlough since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic said they had decided to change their retirement date as a result.

The report calculates that older workers who have been made redundant are expected to save £29,000 less for retirement than the average employee aged 50+. According to the findings, the gap between estimated annual retirement income and the minimum level of income required for a comfortable lifestyle reduces by 18%, or £1,900 annually, for those who have been made redundant, compared to those who have not. For employees over 50 who have experienced one or more of reduced hours (9%), a salary cut (7%), furlough (12%) or redundancy (8%), an annual reduction of £3,100 is estimated.

Andrew Kail, CEO, Legal & General Retail Retirement, says: “The disappearance of the older worker presents a serious challenge to employers. Not only are they the fastest growing employee population, but they also have a wealth of experience that UK employers will miss out on if this trend continues. As we all adjust to new ways of working in the wake of Covid-19, where ‘retirement’ will be different for many people, it’s crucial that older workers are not forgotten.

“The Government’s planned investment of additional funds to get over 50s back into work is a step in the right direction, but there is much more to be done to promote an age diverse workforce. We are living and working longer than ever before and the reality is, many of us will be relying on working longer to save for retirement. It’s therefore vital that older workers feel protected in the workplace, and not at greater risk of redundancy. As an industry, we also need to encourage people to prioritise saving throughout their working life, so finances have time to grow, enabling retirees to enjoy their desired standard of living.”

*Join us for the first National Older Workers Week. It runs from 22nd-26th November and will include a series of online events for employers and candidates with leading experts and employers. There will be a panel discussion on the results of our survey of older workers’ experience of Covid and their attitudes towards their working lives, a best practice event on everything from eliminating age bias in the recruitment process to returner programmes and lifelong learning, an event for line managers on managing multigenerational teams and a candidate-focused  event sharing older workers’ experiences with expert advice for those who wish to change their careers. Find out more and register for the free events here.

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