The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has signed the Age-Friendly Employer Pledge, making the commitment to promote age-inclusive practices among its more than 96,000 members of staff.
The pledge was introduced by the Centre for Ageing Better in order to promote the interests of employees aged over 50 in the UK workforce. According to the DWP, it signed the pledge in order to recognise the benefit of fostering a multi-generational workforce, and to encourage other government departments, as well as other employers, to do the same.
Age-friendly employers commit to identifying a senior sponsor for age inclusion within the workplace, ensuring that age is clearly included in diversity and inclusion policies, and taking action to improve the recruitment, retention and development of staff over 50. The latter point might include hiring age positively, focusing on flexible working, encouraging career development, or providing health support. Employers commit to taking action in at least one of these areas each year and reporting back on their activities and achievements annually.
Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield CB said: “I am very proud that DWP is leading the way as a workplace where all our staff can thrive – whether at the start of their career or experienced members of the workforce.
“Signing this pledge shows our continued determination to support our colleagues throughout their working life. From offering Mid-life MOTs, our menopause network and embedding flexible working, we are committed to making DWP an inclusive place to work for all ages.”
Catherine Vaughan, finance director and age champion at the DWP, added: “We know that older staff provide invaluable expertise, skills and experience to the important work the department does.
“I’m pleased that by signing the Age-friendly Employer Pledge we’re continuing to show how much DWP values an age-diverse workforce. This will provide a tangible boost to help all our staff feel valued and supported whatever their age.”
Dr Emily Andrews, deputy director for work at the Centre for Ageing Better, told Benefits Expert: “We are delighted that the Department for Work and Pensions has joined the quickly growing list of employers, from multinationals to SMEs in a wide range of sectors including finance, hospitality and retail as well as the voluntary and public sectors, signing up to the Centre for Ageing Better’s Age-friendly Employer Pledge.
“We know that government’s actions and messaging in employment can be hugely influential to businesses and organisations’ behaviour. By signing the pledge, DWP will send out an encouraging message to other employers to join this free nationwide programme designed to help businesses meet their skills and labour shortages through recruiting and retraining a multigenerational workforce.”
Office of National Statistics (ONS) labour market figures, released earlier this week, found the number of economically inactive older workers to be disproportionately high compared with other age groups, according to Centre for Ageing Better analysis.
The data revealed that there were more than 280,000 more workers aged 50 to 64-year-olds who were economically inactive, than there were before the pandemic.
In response to these figures, Andrews said: “We would like to see a national programme of 50-plus employment support to help people in this group find their way back into work.”
She added: “We also need to see a much stronger message from government to employers that removing age-related barriers to work will be vital to driving growth in the coming years. Meanwhile, individual employers should take steps to ensure that they offer a supportive and attractive work environment for the recruitment, retention and training of older workers. Any business or organisation that wants to learn more about how to benefit from building a multigenerational workforce should sign up to Ageing Better’s newly-launched Age-friendly Employer Pledge.”