11/02/2004

Smaller firms take lead in employing 'reliable' older workers

Smaller firms are taking the lead in tapping into the wealth of talent and experience that older workers offer, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Andrew Smith said today.

Speaking at Age Concern's The Age Agenda conference today, Mr Smith said that it was a myth to suggest that older people were less effective workers – they had proved to be a "more motivated, reliable and flexible workforce".

There are more and more people of a pensionable age remaining inside the workforce - the number of people aged 50 or over in work has increased by over a million in 1997. And smaller employers were acting as trailblazers in the labour market in the employment of older people, Mr Smith said.

He added: "We know that many people nearing state pension age do not necessarily want to stop working completely – instead they want to choose how and when they stop working. Not only for the obvious financial benefits, but because older workers are more likely to enjoy high levels of job satisfaction."

The minister said that the government was looking at giving people the option to defer their state pension and receive either an enhanced pension or a lump sum as one incentive to keep active.

Mr Smith also pointed to the forthcoming Pensions Bill, which is intended to improve pension security and "restore confidence" in the pension system. The Bill will set up a Pension Protection Fund - so that as to much sure that "a pension promised is a pension honoured".

(gmcg)

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