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18.09.15

Employers told to stop ‘stereotyping’ older staff

Employers in the health sector should offer older employees the same opportunities as younger ones and avoid making stereotypical assumptions about them, according to NICE. 

The health watchdog has published an updated draft guideline on workplace policy to improve the health and wellbeing of all employees, including those aged 50 and over in paid or unpaid work. 

The latest work replaces guidance on the same topic published in June this year, which did not include recommendations on older people. 

Recommendations in the new guidance include employers, managers and HR teams not assuming that an older employee may find learning new tasks difficult or that they are more dependable. 

Additionally, employers should address the needs of older employees as part of a broad diversity policy that recognises key life stages and life events. This includes the shifting of caring responsibilities from care of children to care for grandchildren or parents. 

NICE has also suggested that training programmes should be tailored to meet employees’ needs, and that older members of staff should be offered training to stay in work should their job role change. 

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and health and social care director at NICE, said: “Changes to the working population and the state pension age will mean that greater numbers of people will be working well into their 60s and 70s.  

“It is, therefore, important that the health and wellbeing of all employees, including those over 50, is promoted and protected.  The draft guidance is now out for consultation, and I would urge all those with an interest in this area to comment via the NICE website.” 

By 2020, the Office for National Statistics has predicted that older people will account for almost a third of the working age population, with increases in the state pension age meaning a larger proportion may continue in employment for longer. 

The consultation on the draft guideline will remain open until Monday 19 October 2015. Comments will then be reviewed before the final guideline is published for NHS use next year.

UPDATE

Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The health and wellbeing of employees should be a top priority for any organisation. Tools such as this guidance from NICE are incredibly important, but it’s crucial that they are relevant to all members of the workplace.

“Our health needs change and evolve as we get older, so it’s very positive that NICE have updated their guidance to reflect this. It’s predicted that nearly a third of our workforce will be over 50 by 2020, and their wellbeing will play a crucial role in the health of the overall workforce.

“It’s widely accepted that a healthy and happy workforce delivers the best results for any organisation, from staff retention to productivity. It will therefore benefit everyone if employers take heed of NICE’s updated guidelines and take the time and effort to implement them effectively.”

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