Support for older workers

 Kim Sunley 25 Apr 2016

We’re all working longer, so guidance to support an older workforce is welcome, writes Kim Sunley.

Last month NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) updated its guidance for older workers to include recommendations for improving the health of the over 50s.

This includes on-the-job training as the demands of work change, and better flexibility for those caring for elderly parents or grandchildren.

The evidence is clear. In 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found almost 9.4 million people over the age of 50 working in the UK – of which 1.17 million were aged 65 or over.

By 2020, the ONS predict that older people will account for almost a third (32%) of the working population, because of increases to the state pension age and longer life expectancy.

This trend is true of the NHS too, where the average employee is 43.7. This is projected to rise to 47 by 2023.

While it’s important for every member of staff to feel supported, I am pleased that NICE have recognised that some challenges are unique to the older workforce.

This guidance will help to address stereotypes that many people hold about older workers, namely that they have difficulty learning new skills.

It also acknowledges that work-life balance is key to retaining happy staff – and that allowing time for access to health care such as eye tests and cervical screenings will maintain a healthier workforce.

Ultimately it’s our employer’s responsibility to create an environment where older workers can flourish – and workplace values like dignity, respect and transparency is something we should all enjoy - no matter how old we are.

Healthy workplace, healthy you

Our Healthy workplace, healthy you campaign has resources to help you with work-life balance including advice for carers and resources for employers on the benefits of flexible working arrangements.

Kim Sunley

Kim Sunley

Senior Employment Relations Adviser


Kim Sunley is a Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing. Kim works to improve the health and safety and working environment for nursing staff across the United Kingdom.

Page last updated - 05/09/2018