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Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) release shows large drop in over 50s in the workplace

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had huge impacts on all aspects of life in the UK, including the world of work. Initially younger workers were the hardest hit, but as restrictions eased, a new picture has emerged – the apparent disengagement of many older workers.

The ONS has published its latest release on Employment in the UK showing that there has been an increase in the movement of over-50s from work to inactivity over the course of the pandemic. This has changed a trend of falling inactivity for this group over previous decades. A diverse range of different people from different occupations have chosen to stop working with significant changes for highly qualified men from full-time professional occupations.

There are also a range of different motivations for stopping work, and although retirement is a key driver, issues around health, caring, change in lifestyle are all important factors too, often overlapping and inter-related. Whilst many aren’t interested in returning to work, those who a would be looking for greater flexibility of hours, the ability to work from home and to be able to fit work around responsibilities such as caring, in order to return to work.

The ONS found that more than one in four (27 per cent) people in their 50s who were no longer in work were relying on support from their families, with women far more likely than men to be in this position.

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