Help and support for older workers

Updated 20 October 2016

This page provides guidance about employing older workers and working past 50. It is aimed at:

  • older people who want to get back into work, or stay in work longer

  • employers, who could benefit by employing older people

We’re living longer, healthier lives and have the opportunity to think differently about working as we get older.

There are more older people in employment than ever before, but many people over 50 are at risk of leaving the workforce early, and not necessarily because they want to.

Staying in work and taking control of when and how you retire can give you more money in later life as well as benefit your health and wellbeing.

The Business Champion for Older Workers

The government appointed Andy Briggs, CEO of Aviva UK and Ireland Life, as Business Champion for Older Workers on 7 October 2016. Andy Briggs is chair of the Business in the Community Age at Work leadership team.

Together, they will lead the government’s work to support employers to hire and re-train older workers by promoting the benefits of older workers to employers across England. The Business Champion is a voluntary, unpaid, non-political appointment.

Employers’ guidance

Employer toolkit: guidance for managers of older workers

The Age Action Alliance employer toolkit contains guidance for managers of older workers and includes information about:

  • retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers

  • legal requirements and flexible working arrangements

  • many other areas of interest

There is also further information on the realities of an ageing workforce within different sectors including retail, travel and health.

A general summary of the toolkit is available in this short booklet.

Please send suggestions about how we can make this guidance more useful to

Other guidance for employers

Read more about the role of employers in managing an ageing multi-generational workforce. This guidance includes an overview of legal requirements, training and retirement options, and some case studies.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provide free advice for employers on employment legislation, including advice on age and the workplace.

Employment support for the over 50s

Returning to work

Jobcentre Plus can help if you are out of work. It may be able to provide training, for example with IT literacy and English language skills. It will also be able to signpost you to further sources of information and jobs in the local community.

Returning to the workforce after any period of time away can be a difficult process. To ease your transition towards employment, the government provides guidance on finding a job.

Find a job with Universal Jobmatch.

Age UK offer further independent advice on how to find a job as an older worker.

Developing your skills

Developing your skills and ensuring your suitability for the workplace is essential at every age.

Older workers need not be deterred by IT requirements. If you feel that you could improve your computer skills there are many opportunities available, before and during your time at work.

Find out about improving your English, maths and IT skills.

Read guidance from Age UK about training in technology and using the internet.

Get information about life long learning and adult education from the National Careers Service.

Improving your CV

A professional and clear CV can make the difference between securing an interview or not. If you need to develop your CV further, the National Careers Service can help you at every stage of the process. Contact your local career service for more information.

Your local Jobcentre may also provide helpful advice and resources.


Apprenticeships aren’t just for the young. They give you an opportunity to gain the skills and experience to succeed in a new field.

Almost anyone over the age of 16 can apply for an apprenticeship and take a major step towards building a new career.


Self-employment is a popular option for many older workers who want to build on past experience, develop specialist knowledge and increase control over their working lives.

UnLtd support social entrepreneurs throughout the UK. They have frequently worked with over 50s looking to make a difference in their communities and beyond.

If you are already receiving certain benefits, the government’s New Enterprise Allowance can provide money, support, and mentorship to help you start your own business.

Flexible working

Flexibility in the workplace is a benefit to all, and can lead to greater productivity and work satisfaction and lower employee turnover.

Read an overview of flexible working, including the legal requirements for employers.

Acas provide guidance for both employers and employees on rights and responsibilities when requesting flexible working.

The NHS also provide guidance before, during and after any discussion regarding flexible working hours.

Career review

If you are thinking of retraining, or moving into a different industry, then you could consider a career review.

Career advice is useful for people of every age and a career review could help to point you in the right direction, identifying appropriate employment for older workers. The National Careers Service provide tools to help you plan your next steps in your career.

Rethinking retirement

The default retirement age has been removed, so in most cases employers can no longer force employees to retire just because they reach a certain age.

Flexible work and retirement options

Working flexibly or part-time could be a good bridge into retirement. Flexible working could help you adjust in a more gradual way, or spend more time doing something else (for example a hobby or caring responsibilities).

Read more guidance on this page if you are considering flexible working.

Combining work and grandchildren

As the workforce ages, more and more grandparents will be working. It’s important to acknowledge the contribution they make, both in work and in childcare.

Grandparents Plus is an organisation with a lot of experience representing the views of grandparents. They provide advice on balancing work and caring responsibilities and finding childcare.

If you are looking after your grandchildren, you may be able to get National Insurance credits to boost your State Pension.

Local support for carers

It may be that you provide unpaid support for someone who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail or disabled, or who has mental health or other day-to-day care needs.

Carers Centres are independent charities that deliver a wide range of local support services to meet the needs of carers in their own communities. Find your local service.

Pensions and finance in later life

Plan for your retirement income from your State Pension or a private pension scheme.

The Pensions Advisory Service provide information about the different pensions on offer.

You can claim State Pension while you are in work once you reach State Pension age.

However, you don’t have to claim your State Pension as soon as you reach State Pension age. You may get extra money if you delay (defer) your State Pension.

If you decide to continue working when you reach State Pension age, you’ll no longer have to pay National Insurance.

Find out how you may be affected by the new State Pension if you reached State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016.

If you’re under State Pension age you can get a pension forecast online.

Private pensions

It’s never too late to start saving for a pension. With automatic enrolment into a workplace pension it is even easier to do just that.

Since 6 April 2015, individuals aged 55 and over with defined contribution pension savings have been able to access their pension pot how and when they want to. (This is subject to their marginal rate of income tax, typically 20% or 40%.) They can do this either through their current scheme or by transferring their savings to a scheme that offers flexible access options.

Further information can be found through Pension Wise, a free and impartial government service.

Managing health and disability

The NHS provide useful guidance for men and women on how to remain active, healthy and fit as you age.

Age UK also offer in-depth information on maintaining a healthy diet, body and mind.

Disability Confident campaign

Through the Disability Confident campaign, the government is working with employers to give everyone the confidence and capability to enter the workplace.

Reasonable adjustments

Read our guidance for employers about employing disabled people and people with health conditions, including what reasonable adjustments you may need to make.

The Clear Company provide a range of resources to help businesses and organisations have the confidence to recruit and retain disabled talent.

The NHS offer specific advice for employers on making workplace adjustments for people with mental health conditions.

The Health and Safety Executive offer further examples of workplace adjustments and guidance for employers.

What the government is doing to help older workers

Read more about the actions the government is taking to improve the recruitment and retention of an older workforce.

The government has appointed a Business Champion for Older Workers to promote the benefits of employing older workers to employers across England. The Business in the Community Age at Work leadership team will take the work forward.

Get involved

We are always interested in discovering new case studies, highlighting examples of best practice and sharing positive stories about older workers.

If you have any stories to share or any comments about this guidance, please contact us at

We will ask you to complete a case study consent form so we can publicise your story and spread good practice.