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Employers struggle to manage absence among older staff, finds GRiD

Employers remain “broadly positive” to last year’s removal of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) according to research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry.

Almost a quarter (23%) of 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.

A further 19% said they had already encouraged staff to work beyond retirement age before the DRA was removed.

Managing absence levels among older workers emerges as the only significant issue marring employers' enthusiasm for reform. The research shows that 17% of companies are worried about their older workers being fit and able to do the job, whilst 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, spokeswoman for GRiD, said: "Older employees can bring so much in the way of experience, confidence and mentoring skills to a business so it's great to see employers recognise the benefits of an 'ageless' workforce. But as our survey demonstrates, one potential bone of contention is absence management.

"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)."