British businesses must realise the potential of older employees and help people to carry on working, Pensions Minister Steve Webb has said.
He was speaking on 13 June at the launch of a new government action plan, which says that the economy could have been boosted by £18 billion in 2013 if the employment gap between people in their 40s and those aged from 50 to state pension age was halved.
Mr Webb said: “Older workers have a huge amount to bring to any workforce and are a vast untapped talent. We are living longer and can expect many more years of healthy life. It’s great news – but it’s something that as a society and as an economy we need to respond to.
“I am determined that we boost our support for older workers and help employers challenge outdated perceptions to see the real strengths of this important section of the workforce.”
New measures set out in the action plan include:
- extending the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ service from 30 June 2014
- appointing a new Older Workers’ Employment Champion
- the launch of a new Health and Work Service which will give workers with long-term health problems the support they need to stay in or return to work
According to Office for National Statistics estimates, in the next ten years there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16 to 49 but 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and State Pension age. The UK employment rate for 55 to 64-year-olds is currently around 60 per cent.