Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Study: Looking at Rising Retirement Ages in United States

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has released an issue brief discussing the rise in retirement ages for both men and women aince the mid-1990's. According to "What Is the Average Retirement Age?" by Alicia H. Munnell, the average retirement age in the United States has risen from 62 to 64 for men, and from 60 to 62 for women.

According to Munnell, factors leading to the rising retirement ages include:
  • changing incentives in Social Security and employer pensions;
  • better education and health coupled with less strenuous jobs; and
  • the decline in retiree health insurance.
In addition, she notes that more older women are working today because more of them started working when younger. In addition, the factors leading to the increased retirement ages suggest the trend toward later retirement will continue but risks remain, such as the move away from career employment.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Press Release (August 16, 2011)

Research: Age Diversity in the Workplace as Divisive

According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, in age-diverse companies, employees experience more anger, fear, and disgust, and therefore they consider more often changing their jobs and contribute less to the performance of the company as a whole. The study--“When and why age diversity matters for organizations: A study on the role of affective processes"--was authored by Florian Kunze of the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, and Jochen Menges of Cambridge University. Specifically, the authors say:
"In contrast to several studies on the individual level that portray emotion suppression as a demanding and effortful strategy with high social costs, we showed that emotion suppression is an important response pattern for social interactions in age-diverse organizations. This counterintuitive finding suggests that in age-diverse companies these social benefits outweigh, from an organizational-level perspective, the individual costs of emotion suppression."
The study recommends that managers in highly age-diverse companies implement assessment tools such as employee opinion surveys, analyses of employee grievances, or focus group interviews, and that they invest in emotion-regulation capacities, such as through exercises in emotional control or through role-playing dealing with such potentially problematic situations as younger workers' supervising older subordinates.

A Financial Times article on the presentation reports that the authors suggest two reasons for their findings: (1) people bond better with workers their own age, and (2) in mixed age groups, old people get upset when younger ones are promoted over their heads, while young people get upset when an old person is sitting it out in a job, and preventing their advancement.

Sources: Academy of Management Press Release (August 2011); Financial Times "Age-old bonds make the office tick" (August 14, 2011)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Research Study Finds Disparity Between Effects of Arthritis on Blue Collar and White Collar Older Workers

White-collar workers have a higher overall health-related quality of life than do other workers, and suffer fewer quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost to arthritis at all ages, according to research published in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Thus, for example, while 65-year-old white-collar workers without arthritis look forward to 17 QALYs of future life, blue-collar workers with arthritis experience only 11, and are much less likely to remain in the workforce than are those in service, farming, or white-collar jobs.

In "Arthritis, Occupational Class, and the Aging US Workforce," Alberto Cabán-Martinez, DO, at the time of the study a professor in the department of epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, and the other authors note that this is a signficant workplace issue because it is often the lower-income individuals who, for financial reasons, need to remain in the workforce longer, despite greater health problems than white-collar workers. Among other things, the research found that, in workers aged 65 and older, approximately 67% of farmers, 58% of those in service, 51% in white-collar occupations, and 47% of those in blue-collar jobs had arthritis.
Dr. Cabán-Martinez says it is important to use studies like this to reinforce the need for workforce change. The authors suggest improving disability and unemployment insurance and arthritis health promotion interventions.

He suggests using ergonomic interventions, or changing the workflow or duties to allow people to remain productive longer. For instance, a nurse or police officer could be reassigned from patient handling or street patrol to perform administrative duties. “Wal-Mart might have an elderly greeter at the door instead of at a labor-intensive job so it is not so burdensome on the joints and body,” he says.
Source: Arthritis Today"Arthritis Hits Blue-collar Workers Harder" (August 12, 2011)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

United Kingdom: Fifty Plus Unemployed Face Challenges in Labor Market

Research conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions shows that unemployed workers aged 50 and older take longer to get back to work and are at greater risk of drifting into long-term unemployment or prolonged economic inactivity. The study--"Qualitative Research into Enhanced Jobseeker’s Allowance Provision for the 50+"-- suggests that older newly redundant claimants have a number of key barriers to work that stem from having long work histories e.g. the lack of a CV, lack of job application experience and lack of familiarity with the modern labour market and with online job application procedures.

The report looks at the effects of measures introduced in April 2010 to help Jobcentre Plus advisers deliver an enhanced service to those aged over 50 and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). The additional support introduced for the 50+ took the form of three voluntary measures: access to work trials from day one; entitlement to an extra 30 minutes of adviser time; and eligibility to be fast tracked to Stage 3 of JRFND. Enhanced adviser training was introduced at the same time to support the changes.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions Press Release (August 11, 2011)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Australia: Government Appoints First Age Discrimination Commissioner

The Australian government has announced the appointment of Susan Ryan as Australia’s first full-time Age Discrimination Commissioner. According to Attorney-General Robert McClelland, "[i]n her new position of Age Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Ryan will be a dedicated advocate not only older Australians, but also young people who might be affected by age discrimination." Among other things, her job will be to operate as part of the Age Discrimination Act to tackle age discrimination in workplaces and in the wider community.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler said that "Australians have the fifth longest life expectancy in the world, and we all want a future where we are treated fairly and valued for our contributions." In addition, he noted that Australia needs more employers and the broader community to appreciate the important qualities and skills older Australians bring to the workplace and public life, something the Commissioner can help bring about.

Sources: Australian Human Rights Commission News Release August 1, 2011; Office of Attorney General News Release (July 30, 2011)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Denmark: Tax Board Rules That Employer Health Check for Seniors Is Taxable Benefit

SKAT, the Danish tax authority, has ruled that an employer's provision of a health check for employees 55 and over designed to help encourage employees to continue working instead of retiring and accepting a pension cannot be provided tax free. According to SKAT, tax free provision of benefits is only allowed only when it is part of an employer's general personnel policy for all company employees, and not when offered only to some employees.

Sources: SKAT Tax Board File No. 10-203449 (June 21, 2011); BDO Chartered Account Co. Newsletter (July 5, 2011)