According to a survey of 1,000 employers and employees in Ireland, 61% of employees believe they will have to work past the age of 66 years, while only 32% would like to work beyond that age.
The research published today in the William Fry Employment Report 2019: ‘Age in the Workplace’ looked at some of the current issues around an ageing workforce and mandatory retirement.
Survey findings include:
- 35-54-year-olds – 67% believe they will have to work past 66, although only 28% want to do so,
- Over 55s – 36% believe they will have to work past 66, but only 41% wish to do so,
- Retirement age – 53% of women are in jobs with a determined retirement age, compared with 44% of males.
Older workers growing
Catherine O’Flynn (employment and benefits department, William Fry) said: “According to recent CSO figures, there are 76,000 workers over the age of 65 in the Irish workforce, up from 69,000 in the previous 12 months.
“Factors driving these changes include improved longevity, higher living costs and delayed receipt of the State pension. With the majority of employees believing that they will have to work longer than ever before, now is the time for employers to act and prepare for a more age-diverse workplace.”
The report also notes that there were 1,449 equality complaints made to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in 2018.
Of these, age was included in approximately 49% of all equality claims. The figure reveals a significant increase in age-related disputes compared with the 2017 figure, where discrimination on the ground of age was alleged in only 24% of equality claims.
According to William Fry, recruitment and promotion processes are particularly prone to age bias, whether conscious or unconscious. To avoid this, some of the measures that employers should implement include:
- Ensuring that recruitment material is age neutral and non-discriminatory,
- Providing training on unconscious bias to internal recruiters and decision makers,
- Ensuring diversity among recruitment and decision makers,
- Using objective assessment criteria when recruiting and promoting,
- Never basing a decision to hire, not hire or promote on any discriminatory grounds, including age.
Legal risk exposure
Catherine O’Flynn cautions employers: “Irish employers have introduced age-diverse policies and initiatives, such as raising the age of retirement, physically adapting the workplace, and aligning retirement age with the State pension age.
“However, all employers in Ireland need to plan for employees wishing to work beyond 66 years old.
“When this growing trend is added to the significant increase in age-related disputes before the Workplace Relations Commission, many employers may be unnecessarily exposing themselves to legal risk.