07 February 2023
With an estimated half a million workers aged over 50 retiring during the pandemic, the Government has called on retirees to return to the workforce to address the UK’s tight labour market. What should employers be considering to support this drive?
Employers’ recruitment processes may be tested to ensure they are not tainted by bias against those of an older generation who wish to return to work. Whilst the days of job vacancies demanding the successful candidate have ‘a youthful and energetic vibe’ have mostly disappeared, less subtle forms of age discrimination may still exist. For example, bias towards younger candidates may creep in as hiring managers are shaped by their experience that junior roles should be filled by younger employees or are apprehensive of managing someone who is older than them. So, despite the Government’s best intentions, and support from industry, biases held by hiring managers may scupper those plans and expose the employer to risks of age discrimination claims. To mitigate those risks, some employers have withdrawn ages / dates of birth from the recruitment process. Hiring managers may also need to undergo training or mentoring to recognise the signs of bias creeping into their decisions and / or be mentored on the benefits of bringing an experienced hand into their teams.
Employers will also need to consider what welfare and employee benefits packages they offer. Older employees may be more likely to value healthcare benefits such as private medical insurance over remuneration and bonuses. In some cases, pensions may not be that attractive if the candidate has already met their lifetime pensions allowance.
Revisiting policies is also recommended to ensure that they remain attractive for older workers considering a return to the workforce. The ability to work flexibly will no doubt be a draw for those considering returning to work. The grind of 9 to 5 is unlikely to appeal to those who have enjoyed the freedom of retirement. Being able to fit work in around that freedom will surely be high on the list of priorities and consequently, employers will need to consider how vacancies can be made flexible to suit these requirements. With the right to make a flexible working request likely to become a day one right this year, hiring managers should already be considering vacancies with this in mind. Introducing enhanced paid leave entitlements such as grandparent leave may also be attractive. For those aged 50, they may soon be considering helping out with their own children’s childcare responsibilities as they look to have families of their own. The ability to take paid time off in these circumstances will surely be a consideration for any offer of employment they choose to take up.
If you would like any support regarding the risks of age discrimination in your recruitment processes or your existing policies and whether they are fit for purpose, please contact Charlie Barnes.