Right to request flexible working for all starts tomorrow

Government giving green light to redefine retirement - encouraging flexible working in later life

A win-win-win - better for older people's health and wealth and better for the economy

by Dr. Ros Altmann

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Just wanted to point out that the new rules allowing all workers to request flexible working start tomorrow. This could be the start of a whole new concept of retirement for millions in future, if employers allow their older workers to cut down, rather than having to suddenly stop altogether. I hope employers will grant people these rights as the impact could be a win-win-win for all of us. My release explains why.

All workers can request flexible working: From 30th June, the Government is giving all workers the right to request flexible working. So far, parents and carers can ask their employer to allow them to work flexibly, but now all workers will be able to. Employers have been agreeing to over 70% of such requests, so it is likely that increasing numbers of older people will be able to work part-time in future.

Older workers can benefit from easing into retirement more gently: This will help to redefine retirement. Rather than retirement meaning stopping work completely, it can increasingly mean cutting working hours first, before stopping altogether. Already, more than 1 million people in the UK are working past age 65, the majority part-time, and this is likely to extend to many more in future.

Rethinking retirement is better for the nation's health, wealth and growth: Retirement will become more of a process than an event, and longer working lives is a win-win-win for all of us, especially as the population is rapidly aging. Most people in their 60s nowadays are still fit and strong and capable of working, although they may prefer to work less than full-time. Having the chance to stay in work offers the opportunity to earn more money and also to build up a bigger pension. But working longer does not just increase wealth, it will also improve health. Studies show that people who retire suffer a deterioration in their health, often become more lonely and miss the social interaction of working life. With increasing numbers of baby boomers reaching their sixties, keeping more of them in work will improve the economy and create more growth for all of us.

Older workers are a precious national resource: Helping older people stay in work allows the whole economy to benefit from the huge range of skills, talent and experience that they have gained during their working years. If too many suddenly stop work and have low pension income, the outlook for growth will deteriorate, whereas keeping them in work on a part-time basis will increase their income, should increase their eventual pension and also contribute to economic output.

Flexible working can improve the lives of millions in future: The right to flexible working marks another advance for older people who can benefit from a better work-life balance as they get older, without having to stop working altogether when they are still in good health and have twenty or thirty years ahead of them.

 

ENDS
Dr. Ros Altmann
29 June 2013


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