Men and women are working later in life because women have to wait longer to receive their state pension, according to new research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
HR will increasingly be working with an older workforce as the age of pension entitlement continues to rise – it currently stands at 61 years and 5 months and is due to increase to 66 by 2020.
First legislated in 1995, the pension age increase has encouraged woman directly affected by the changes to work later in life. Husbands of those affected are also working later, possibly to mirror their wife’s retirement plans or because of financial concerns.
The study covered data from the last two years since the state pension age for women started to rise from age 60 in April 2010. As a result of the increase from 60 to 61 that occurred between April 2010 and April 2012:
- Employment rates among 60 year old women have increased by 7.3 percent
- Among their husbands, employment rates have increased by 4.2 percent
- Unemployment among women aged 60 increased by 1.3 percent
A number of reasons were suggested to explain the increase in working age among men and women, including a change in social norms brought about by the new legislation. Some women might also be using the state retirement age as an ‘anchor’ for their retirement decisions.
There’s also evidence, says the study, that a proportion of women affected by the legislation did not know it was coming into effect and didn’t alter their savings arrangements appropriately.
For HR, this issue requires communication with affected workers – some believe the impetus for making pensions arrangements should come from the workplace. It also involves ensuring policies are in place for dealing with an older workforce and the associated challenges, such as a higher potential for medical issues.
With both men and women affected by the rise in women’s state pension age, there’s a significant part of the workforce looking to work later. Employers must also remember that the default retirement age of 65 was abolished in 2011, which means inevitably they will have to adapt to an aging workforce into the future.