An insurance company has pointed out the surge in the number of over-50s workers in the UK, noting that these employees now outnumber the populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and urged employers to do more to support this group of workers in their adaptation to a longer working life.

The insurer, Aviva, was quoting recent official employment figures which indicate there are around 10.6 million people aged 50 and over in the UK labour market.

This population now represents nearly one in three (31%) of all workers, up from one in five (21%) when these records began in 1992.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has pointed out that today’s workforce is likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the state pension age, which means that many people will need, and want, to continue working.

Health and safety experts have also urged employers to consider the implications of an ageing workforce in the UK. For example, extended working lives will potentially result in longer exposure to hazards at work, unless those risks are properly managed.

Furthermore, a higher proportion of older workers means there will be more people with chronic health conditions at work, making good rehabilitation and return-to-work of increasing importance.

Commenting on the issue, Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva, said, “We’ve never seen a population of this age and size in work. They are record breakers. 10.6 million people is more than the populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. And as the state pension age for men and women is now rising, we can expect this population to keep growing. However, more must be done by employers to support these record breakers in a fuller working life.”

Last reviewed 12 February 2019