Are you going to work forever? Should you? Last week the government announced that it was accelerating its plans to raise the state retirement age. Reactions were mixed from different sectors of society.
On one hand there was a positive reaction from those who appreciated that this was just one of the measures that had to be taken to help reduce the deficit. After all, with increasingly longevity, many people are quite capable of working until they are 66. The coalition government intends to raise retirement age eventually to 70. Indeed, the state pension is so low that many people feel unable to retire any sooner than that for fear of a retirement characterised by poverty.
The rise in the age when people can access the state pension may also be accompanied by abolishing the ability of employers to set a default retirement age – which will stop bosses putting capable employees out to pasture thanks to their age alone.
But the measures that are being contemplated are one sided, and may not reflect the realities of the workplace. Whilst people are without question living longer, are they going to be capable of working later and later?
Employers may find themselves in an uncomfortable position of having to discuss the deterioration of an older worker’s health in an employment tribunal if they try to force someone to retire. What an affront on someone’s dignity!
Is it ageist to ask someone in their 60s how much longer they plan to be in the workforce, or is it simply the behaviour of an employer who wants to plan their training and recruitment budgets.
This is not a minority issue. According to the Office for National Statistics, a fifth of the United Kingdom’s population is made up of pensioners. As an aging population, Brits needs to focus on planning for their retirement, and fast.
However, whilst not a minority issue, pensions is becoming a class issue. It is widely accepted that the wealthy live longer than the poor, who will come off worst from plans to lift the state retirement age.