An Ageing Workforce: The Employer's Perspective

Funded by: Nuffield


January 2008 to March 2009


Helen Barnes, Institute of Employment Studies

PSI researchers:

Deborah Smeaton

Background, summary and aims


Against a background of workforce ageing, an early retirement culture, skills shortages and the prospect of a pensions crisis , prolonging the labour market participation of older workers has become a key policy objective. To this end, the state pension age will rise to 65 for women by 2010 and to 68 for all by 2044. In addition, age discrimination legislation was introduced in October 2006 which includes provision for individuals to request that they continue working beyond the normal retirement age.

Project Aims

The primary aim of the project is to assess the impact of the new regulations and investigate the extent to which employers have been proactive in complying with not only the letter but also the spirit of the law. Of interest are the range of schemes and measures that have been introduced to prevent early exit and facilitate the employment of staff to pension age and beyond. To what extent is a preventative framework deployed and under which circumstances do employers struggle to be progressive?


A case study methodology is used to elicit employers’ perspectives on age management and associated problems and opportunities. In addition, to provide contextual background, secondary analysis of the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (2004) will be undertaken to build a picture of how age has been managed in a wide range of British establishments.