Friday, March 09, 2012

United Kingdom: Survey Finds Employers Embracing "Ageless" Workforce, but Concerned about Absences

A survey of a sampling of 500 United Kingdom businesses conducted for Group Risk Development (GRiD) finds that employers are broadly positive about the removal of the default retirement age (DRA) in the workforce. Specifically, 23% of the employers questioned believed that removing the DRA would enable them to retain the best talent within the business, with 12% saying it would increase diversity in the workplace. In addition, another 19% said they had already encouraged staff to work beyond retirement age before the DRA was removed.

One concern that employers have that emerged from the survey is managing absence levels among older workers. According to GRiD, 17% of companies are worried about their older workers being fit and able to do the job, and 11% believe it will drive up sickness absence costs with knock on impact for the whole team. A further 8% said they were worried about managing the capability process (performance management/appraisals) fairly. Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said:
Put simply, businesses fear that older workers are more likely to be sick than their younger colleagues and will have less incentive to return to work. It’s for this reason that the group risk industry worked with Government to ensure that businesses can take the same practical approach as the State does with working age benefits (which cease at State Pension Age). Employers are therefore not actually obliged to extend provision of insured protection products (such as Group Life Assurance, Group Income Protection and Group Critical Illness) beyond age 65 or State Pension Age, as this increases.

For those employers who do choose to continue these benefits to their staff beyond age 65, group risk providers can be flexible in accommodating a range of upper ages or other solutions – such as a limited payment period under a group income protection policy.
Source: Group Risk Development News Release (March 9, 2012)

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