Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey was published last week and shows that a high number...read more
In the second part of our round-up, we pick out the main news stories during the summer months about workers aged over 50.
Over the summer, the UK’s worker shortages dominated the news. These shortages were in part driven by a high number of workers over the age of 50 leaving the workforce during the height of the Covid pandemic, prompting both political leaders and employers to consider how to attract them back.
Here are the main news stories that we covered on worker shortages, pensions, ageism, menopause, and more.
In pension news, Workingwise.co.uk released new research showing that 50% of older women say they will have to keep working beyond retirement to make ends meet. Our ‘Gendered Ageism’ report surveyed 1,356 workers over the age of 45 and highlighted the extent of the pension crisis for women. Also this month, Trades Union Congress research found that retired women effectively go for four and a half months each year without getting a pension, due to the gender pension gap. Another study found that people with disabilities have a private pension pot that is just 36% of the UK average.
In menopause news, Channel 4 released its high-profile documentary, “Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause”. The show commissioned a large survey, which found that 44% of menopausal women in employment say their ability to work has been affected by their symptoms, yet eight in 10 say their workplace has no basic support in place for them. Meanwhile, court records showed that employment tribunals involving menopause were increasing albeit from a low base.
In tax news, a report on the IR35 tax legislation roll-out raised concerns about HMRC’s failure to look into the wider impact of the reforms on workers or labour markets.
But it wasn’t all bad. In a campaign against gendered ageism, actors including David Tennant, Juliet Stevenson and Meera Syal called on broadcasters and filmmakers to ensure that older women are represented on screen as much as men.
Employment news focused on the UK’s labour shortage, which was in part fuelled by older people leaving the workforce at higher rates than usual over the course of the pandemic. An Institute for Fiscal Studies report found that most of this rise was due to early retirement – and that this group was very unlikely to return to the workforce.
In pension news, a study found that women would need to work until the age of 83 to close the gender pension gap, while one in six women were currently ineligible for auto-enrolment into a workplace pension because they earned too little. Meanwhile, a report from the Association of British Insurers found that workers overall were not saving enough for their pensions and not enough people were eligible for auto-enrollment.
When it came to ageism, a Chartered Management Institute report found that 85% of people surveyed felt that their employer was inclusive when it came to age – but just 5% thought their organisation was proactively trying to recruit older workers.
Employment news continued to focus on the UK’s labour shortage and how to attract older people back to work. The government announced it would trial “midlife MOTs” in the north-east of England, Cornwall & Devon, and East Anglia – the midlife MOT is a review for workers in their 40s and 50s, to help them take stock of their finances, skills and health. The Labour party also outlined its plans to attract and retain older workers, including tailored support for over-50s. Meanwhile, an analysis of official data showed that some older workers had started ‘unretiring’, but mostly those aged over 65 rather than those in the 50-65 bracket.
In menopause news, a report from Parliament’s Women & Equalities Select Committee called on the government to consult on making menopause a protected characteristic. And in other health news, a study found that almost two million people had long Covid and this was causing one in 10 workers to stop working for a period of time, although most people had returned to work six months after they were first infected.
On the subject of pensions, a poll commissioned by Phoenix found that 84% of people believe that it is an essential role of the government to provide the state pension – and yet one in three people think that there probably won’t be a state pension by the time they retire.
In pension news, a Legal & General report showed that the gender pension gap exists in every UK sector, and called on all companies and pension providers to disclose their gender pension gap. Meanwhile, a report from Aviva found that more people aged over 65 are still working compared to six years ago as the pension age has risen, but many are not able to plug the gap between deferred access to the state pension and retirement.
In employment trends, the UK continued to grapple with a labour shortage partly driven by an exodus of older workers – official data showed that there were 1.27 million job vacancies in May-July, 32% higher than a year earlier. Meanwhile an academic study warned that older workers, particularly those in their 50s, could face financial insecurity as a result of withdrawing pension funds early and other pressures.