Move to stop older workers from facing age discrimination

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Older workers must not be stripped of health insurance and death in service benefits when they pass retirement age, MPs will be told this week. Dover MP Natalie Elphicke wants to change the law to end this “humiliating, demeaning and damaging” form of “age discrimination”.

Ms Elphicke is alarmed that older people who choose to stay in work have received letters stating that, while they cannot be forced to retire, they will lose such benefits.

Her bid to stop companies taking away entitlements from older workers comes as the Government launches initiatives to encourage experienced people to return to the workforce and to persuade others to stay in their jobs.

Ms Elphicke said: “There are more workers working over the age of 65 than ever before.

“It’s so important to treat older people fairly in the workplace and support older workers who choose to continue in their jobs past retirement.

“There are a million people in employment who are over 65. The number is continuing to rise sharply. That’s why age discrimination of workplace benefits, like health insurance and death in service benefits, needs to end.

“Age discrimination, like any other form of discrimination, is humiliating, demeaning and damaging. It’s time for equal pay for older workers.” John Palmer, of charity Independent Age, backed the call for equal access to benefits.

He said: “It is crucial to treat those people over the age of 65 who are still working, for whatever reason, fairly. Employers must ensure that all working benefits are extended to support those who decide to work beyond their retirement age.”

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: “Given the current cost-of-living crisis, it’s no wonder we keep hearing that many are either changing retirement plans or having to return to work in an effort to shore up their finances against the storm.

“There are many older people with a lifetime of valuable skills who might relish the prospect of staying in employment, and we hope that employers recognise the fantastic and often under-used skill base of enthusiastic older workers.

“Any legislation aimed at wiping out the more pernicious aspects of age discrimination is very welcome.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is concerned that many older workers have left the workforce, warning in his Budget speech that the UK now has the “23rd highest inactivity rate for over-55s in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development”.

He has now promised “returnerships” a “new kind of apprenticeship targeted at the over-50s who want to return to work”.

In a further move to keep workers in their jobs, he has scrapped the £1million cap on the amount people can save for their pensions before paying extra tax.

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