A silver lining for the UK economy? The intergenerational case for supporting longer working lives

SCIE Social Care Online
Centre for Ageing Better
Publication date:
01 January 2018


This paper explores how supporting older workers to remain in better, more fulfilling work for longer can be part of the solution to addressing the fiscal pressures of an ageing population. Currently, less than half of the population are in employment the year before they are eligible for their state pension. The age employment gap is likely to grow in line with the scheduled rises in state pension age unless action is taken now. The paper argues that the key driver of supporting people to work for longer is to improve the quality of work. It sets out key policy options, which include: policies to prevent older workers from falling out of work – ensuring that existing initiatives and services such as Access to Work are tailored to the health profile and needs of older workers, enabling workers to make a statutory request for flexible working upon point of hire, without having to wait 26 weeks, requiring statutory reporting of flexible working requests and responses, and introducing a right to return for both carers and people with long term health conditions; policies to support a return to work – developing specialised employment support for claimants aged 50 and over, recognising the particular difficulties faced by this age group, creating greater flexibility in the benefits system to recognise that not everyone can work, particularly in the context of the rising state pension age; and policies to support workplaces that accommodate all ages – introducing age bands in gender pay gap reporting to highlight pay inequalities faced by older women in the workplace, and ensuring open access and promotion of skills and progression opportunities for all ages.