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Poor health could obstruct later life working

Half of older employees fear work will become detrimental to their health

More than five million workers over the age of 50 are concerned that health issues will prevent them from prolonging their working lives, according to research from Aviva.

The latest version of its regular Real Retirement Report surveyed 1,177 people, and found that half (55%) of older employees fear work will become detrimental to their health or they might not be well enough to keep working, including 13% who said this is already an issue for them.

Nearly half (48%) said that they now expect to work past the age of 65 – the former default retirement age – including 23% who plan to work beyond 70, and 13% who do not expect to ever retire fully. Two in five (41%) do not know when they’ll be able to retire fully.

Those retiring later than planned reported they are partly doing so out of financial necessity. Forty-three per cent do not have enough pension savings to retire when they want to, and 32% say the cost of living means they cannot afford to stop working.

However, a third (34%) said they chose to keep working as they enjoy the mental stimulation of their job. More than one in four (27%) would be lonely without the social interaction of a workplace.

Lindsey Rix, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, said that there is now a clear trend of people working for longer and delaying their retirement. “Although some are staying in work out of financial necessity, others want to keep working because they value the mental and social stimulation their job brings,” she said.

“One of the primary concerns people have about working beyond their 50s is the impact this could have on their health, or whether any health concerns might prevent them from working. Although it’s hard to predict what the future might bring, having access to health and wellbeing support in the workplace can help minimise the impact health problems have on people’s ability to work. Flexible working options and reduced responsibilities are also a way of ensuring those with developing health concerns can remain in the workforce."

Rix added that employers need to update their attitudes when it comes to older workers. “Negative employer views towards older workers are a roadblock to over-50s’ careers, and need to be stamped out as quickly as possible,” she said.

“Employers must recognise that over-50s bring with them a wealth of valuable knowledge, skills and experience that would be an asset to any business. Workers who feel undervalued at work on the basis of their age should therefore feel safe to voice their concerns. All older workers should have the opportunity to support both their financial and personal wellbeing through work.”