On average, older workers report greater job satisfaction and are less likely to change jobs, yet they are still regularly overlooked and stereotyped by employers.

With half of older women fearing they will have to keep working beyond the state pension age amidst the cost of living crisis, now is a better time than any to consider the importance of older employees.

Experience and enthusiasm

Older workers can and do have a valuable impact on your business, bringing along an abundance of experience and commitment.

Therefore, looking after their health and safety makes good business sense.

According to research from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), 62 per cent of over 50s describe themselves as feeling as fit as ever and keen to stay involved.

Despite this, many employers have stereotyped views of the abilities and attitudes of older workers, believing them unfit to work due to ageing and ill health.

How to work with older employees

Do not assume that some jobs are too physically challenging, as many are supported by technology, which works to absorb the physical strain.

Instead, think about the activities older workers do as part of your overall risk assessment and consider whether modifications are required.

This might include:

  • Allowing older workers more time to absorb health and safety information or training
  • Introducing opportunities for older workers to choose to move to other types of work
  • Designing tasks that contain a manual element that they eliminate or minimise the risk.

Think about how older workers can pass on their knowledge and help improve managing health and safety risks by assisting younger colleagues.

Consulting with your employees helps you to manage health and safety in a practical way.

Do not discriminate

Employers need to be sure not to fall foul of age discrimination laws, especially as there is now no legal retirement age, and older workers enjoy the same employment rights as others on the workforce.

There are exceptions in some situations where an employer can force a worker to retire by law, but they must give a solid reason why. Employees may be asked to retire early if their job:

  • Requires a certain level of mental or physical abilities
  • Has an age limit set by another law.

If this is the case, the employer must follow a fair procedure and give the appropriate amount of notice.