Older home workers say they will put off retirement, study finds

Home workers will put off retirement: Older Britons say they will delay plans if they are not forced back to the office when the Covid pandemic ends

  • Survey by ONS showed 11% of over 50s may delay retirement if WFH continues
  • This compares to 5% of those who are not working from home during pandemic
  • ONS says increased work rate for over 50s could boost economy by £88billion

Older workers who are allowed to work from home after the pandemic ends will delay retirement, the Office of National Statistics has said.

A survey by the ONS showed that 11 per cent of older workers in Britain say they will stay in their jobs longer if working from home compared to just 5 per cent of those not working from home. 

The ONS said that the decision to delay retirement by those aged over 50 could be beneficial for the economy.

It estimated that if the work rate for people aged 50 to 64 matched those aged 35 to 49 it could boost the economy by £88billion – the equivalent of more than 5 per cent to the GDP.

Workers aged 50 and above who are allowed to continue working from home after the pandemic ends will delay retirement, the Office of National Statistics has said (stock image)

The ONS also reported that working from home all or some of the time has benefits for both older workers themselves and their employers.

For example, workers said they were more productive at home and there was a decrease in absenteeism.

The ONS said: ‘This could be because those working from home have less exposure to illness.

‘Also, when unwell, those working from home may be more likely to feel able to work than those who travel to a workplace.’

During lockdown 45 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men in their 50s switched to home working. Those in managerial and professional posts were most likely to work remotely. 

The ONS said that older workers have been asking for flexibility for some time and that implementing it could encourage them to stay on if it improves work life balance.

According to a survey conducted by Saga in 2018, when asked what workplaces should do to become more welcoming to older workers, 78 per cent of those aged 50 years and over said that workplaces should introduce flexible working including working from home arrangements. 

The ONS said that early retirement was often a choice for those who can afford it while others leave because of ill-health or caring responsibilities.  

But those who have access to comprehensive support and flexible working to allow them to manage their ill-health or caring responsibilities are more loyal to their employer and are more likely to remain in work, the ONS said.

However, although the ONS said it appears that working from home all or some of the time has benefits for both older workers themselves and their employers, it warned that remote working was not for everyone.

While it may help some older workers stay in the labour market for longer it may also entrench existing inequalities,’ it said.

‘Those who were less likely to have been able to switch … are more likely to have poor health, to live in deprived areas, to have lower or no qualifications and to have lower wellbeing than those who did not.

‘From the individual older worker’s perspective, their wellbeing and work life balance improves, health issues, appear to be better accommodated and there is some evidence that working from home facilitates older workers to remain in the labour market for longer.’

 

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