There is new focus on older people as the word ‘vulnerable’ has serious consequences for over-60s at work. Age discrimination has long blighted labour markets around the world, in spite of legal prohibitions against it, but researchers are now concerned more than ever that the coronavirus crisis is about to make age discrimination far worse in the workplace. As Covid-19 reinforced the idea of older people being frail and vulnerable, we saw a heightened urge in keeping the age group ‘safer’ and advise for a blanket age group to “take particular care”. This reinforcement has placed strain and provoked many discussions, as seeds of doubt have been planted amongst many companies/employers as to whether they are less likely to hire/keep the ‘vulnerable’ age group.

In recent years, government policies on dealing with the issue have been clear: people need to work for longer. State pension ages have been raised. The difficulty now for older workers is that they will be competing for jobs — or trying to remain in the ones they have — at a time of mass unemployment. Companies will continue to cut labour costs and their older workers will be easy targets. As people struggle to remain in jobs, is there a danger of intergenerational conflict? Organisations should adopt flexible approaches to all ages in their workforce. The current widespread working from home provides clear indications that old office-based approaches are not always necessary.


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