Everybody, get back to work! That is the message from the Government
Are older people really “economically inactive”? Paul Lewis dispels the myths around returning to work in later life
Get back to work! Your country needs you! That is the message from the government to the more than three million people aged 50 to 65 described by statisticians as “economically inactive”. In other words, they’re not in paid work or self-employed nor are they “actively seeking work”, as they must do to claim unemployment benefits.
But many of them are far from inactive. The latest census data found that nearly one in four of those aged 50 to 69 are caring for someone else and charging nothing for it, saving the state the very high cost of looking after those people. They may pay no tax, but they are far from inactive as far as the economy is concerned.
Another large group are unwell. RestLess, the campaigning group for the over-50s, says 1.6 million are unable to work because of their health, a number that has increased 20 per cent in three years.
There are some signs that economic inactivity among this group is falling as the cost-of-living crisis bites. But when people over 50 try to get work they often hit the rock of ageism and, in the case of women, sexism as well. Research by the Chartered Management Institute found only four out of ten managers were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged 50-64. And a recent survey found women aged over 50 had the biggest gender pay gap of any age – earning £7,000 a year less than men of the same age.
So if you do want to go to work to make some extra money to help with the cost of living or perhaps just to feel “economically active”, what should you do? There are a lot of jobs out there and a labour shortage. Be positive about your abilities, your experience, your commitment, your reliability and your health. They are all things employers will like. Remember that turning you down on grounds of your age or your sex is unlawful. And if a firm does that, you can claim compensation from an employment tribunal (though that, of course, is a last resort).
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For more information on career change and jobs in later life, see restless.co.uk.
QUESTIONS? Send any questions to Paul.Lewis@radiotimes.com. Paul cannot answer you personally, but will reflect them in his column.