Managing Older WorkersManaging Older Workers – The introduction of the default retirement age in 2006 was gratefully received by employers.

Managing Older Workers – The welcome was not surprising because it gave them an easy way of dismissing older workers without the usual risk of an unfair dismissal – all they had to do was follow an administrative procedure. It is now 5 years since this dismissal method was removed and the onus is again on treating older workers fairly. Acas has set out key considerations in order to do this, and employers should ignore them at their peril.

Large older population

Acas has set out the statistics for all to see: there are currently 20 million people aged 50 and over in the UK. This is expected to increase by 37% to 27 million by 2030. Chances are you will employ a number of people who are this age and also approaching retirement age and will need to know more about Managing Older Workers.

Age is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010. A research paper prepared for Acas in 2016 “Managing Older Workers: A Report For Acas” emphasises that pigeon-holing people into age categories may be counter productive.

Barriers to employment

Advertising, application forms and selection procedures are three areas in recruitment which Acas points out as being potentially problematic.

What you can do:

  • Choose your language carefully in advertisements. Words like ‘lively’, ‘energetic’ or ‘junior’ may carry connotations that older people will not be considered for the job;
  • It is not unlawful to ask for a date of birth on an application form but removing the question helps to portray you as an unbiased employer;
  • Don’t have stereotypes when considering how committed an older person will be to a job.

Career progression and managing older workers

Ambition and development are two words which Acas suggest are not normally associated with older workers. However, a report by Age Concern, referred to in Acas guidance, shows that older workers can pick up new skills as well as younger workers.

What you can do:

  • Hold appraisals for all of your employees and discuss job expansion where appropriate. Don’t assume older employees don’t want to take on new responsibilities. Acas suggests mentoring as an option for older employees;
  • Don’t mention retirement in an appraisal unless the employee does.

Concerns about capability

You may worry that an employee’s performance may begin to dwindle as they get older.

What you can do:

  • There is nothing wrong with expecting the same output from all of your employees, regardless of their age;
  • If targets and key performance indicators are not met, then a capability process should be initiated as with any employee who was not performing well.

Retirement

Since the removal of the default retirement age, you can no longer force retirement on employees unless there is a very good reason, and this is likely to be rare.

What you can do:

  • Acas suggests you plan for retirement, and you can do this like you would for any employee who may resign;
  • When employees retire, they are resigning and you can require them to give you their normal contractual notice of termination.

FOR ANY FURTHER INFORMATION OR GUIDANCE ON Managing Older Workers PLEASE CALL OUR FREE ADVICE SERVICE ON 0800 810 8765.

OUR FREE ADVICE SERVICE CAN ALSO ADVISE YOU ON ANY HR QUERIES YOU MAY HAVE; FROM CONTRACTUAL GUIDANCE, GRIEVANCES OR DISCIPLINARIES, TO HOLIDAY/SICKNESS ABSENCE MANAGEMENT OR MATERNITY/PATERNITY/ADOPTION LEAVE and Managing Older Workers.

PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL US. WE ARE A NATIONAL FREE ADVICE SERVICE AND CAN HELP WITH ANY EMPLOYMENT LAW OR HR QUERY.