Last updated: 06.10.15

Bosses urged not to discriminate against workers over 50

Employers across the UK have been urged by a health watchdog not to discriminate against workers aged over 50 years old.

The latest guidance proposed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises managers to avoid stereotyping older staff by presuming they will find it difficult to operate new computer systems or take on additional tasks, because of their age.

Instead, the draft guidance states that bosses should allow staff in their 50s and 60s to take time off work to look after their grandchildren or ageing relatives. This would mean allowing them to work flexible hours in order to carry out tasks, such as nursery school pick-ups or visit parents in hospital or care homes.

According to government statistics, around two-thirds of adults aged between 50 and 67 are in employment and predicted to account for a third of the UK workforce by 2020.

What's more, such statistics are likely to rise even further after the government has announced plans to increase the age at which workers can claim their state pension to 68.

NICE's guidance also urges bosses to not overlook considering older workers for a promotion or job change. They are also advised to not assign them to fewer responsibilities on the basis that they are slower than their younger colleagues.

Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and health and social care director of NICE, said: "Changes to the working population and the state pension age will mean that greater numbers of people will be working well into their 60s and 70s.

"It is, therefore, important that the health and wellbeing of all employees, including those over 50, is promoted and protected. The draft guidance is now out for consultation, and I would urge all those with an interest in this area to comment via the NICE website."

The government has stressed the importance of older people in the workforce, saying they have a wealth of skills that will help to strengthen the economy.

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