Help and support for older workers

Updated 9 December 2021

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

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

Recent years have seen 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, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Group as Business Champion for Older Workers. He is also chair of the Business in the Community Age at Work leadership team.

This team leads on the government’s work to support employers to hire and retrain older workers by promoting the benefits of older workers to employers. The Business Champion is a voluntary, unpaid, non-political appointment.

Guidance for employers

Business in the Community publish factsheets, research and guidance which support the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers. They have also published a toolkit to support people during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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

Flexible working

Working in a flexible way can be a good bridge into retirement for individuals. Offering flexible working can be a good way for you to keep your older employees’ valuable skills and experience.

Timewise have created a toolkit to support individuals with flexible working in the long term.

Mid-life MOT

You may want to consider offering your employees a mid-life MOT which allows people in mid-life to take stock and make plans for their job, health and finances. This can help to shape their future at work.

Retaining your older workers

DWP have produced a video giving advice on making the most of the talent of older workers:

Fuller working lives video

Age discrimination

The ACAS ten obligations for employers guide provides some key considerations for employers to reduce the chance of age discrimination happening.

Supporting older workers

DWP have produced a video with ideas on how you can engage your older workers:

Engage your older workers video.

Further advice on supporting your older workers is available from:

Menopause and the workplace

Most women will experience symptoms of menopause, and many are able to carry on their life as normal, discussing any issues with their manager at work while continuing with their career. However in some cases, symptoms may be debilitating and have a significant impact on everyday activities. DWP’s 50Plus Choices offer is designed to support both groups of women, and everyone going through the menopause.

Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of the workforce and may go through the menopause transition during their working lives. For every 10 women experiencing menopausal symptoms, 6 say it has a negative impact on their work.

In July 2021 the Minister for Employment commissioned a report from members of a roundtable of employer organisations which she co-chairs with the Business Champion for Older Workers, on the issue of the menopause and the workplace. The recommendations contained within the report are aimed at bringing about comprehensive change around menopause transition support in the key areas of:

  • government policy
  • employer practice
  • wider societal change
  • specific financial support

Employment support for the over 50s

Returning to work

Jobcentre Plus can help if you’re 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.

Use the ‘Find a job’ service (previously Universal Jobmatch).

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

Use jobhelp for tips on finding work at 50 plus.

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.

Guidance is available 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, the National Careers Service can help you at every stage of the process. Contact an adviser for help.

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.

Flexible working and retirement options

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

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).

An overview of flexible working, including the legal requirements for employers is available.

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

Citizens Advice provide guidance on negotiating flexible working hours.

Centre for Aging Better and Timewise have developed an employer toolkit on flexible working for over 50s.

Career review

If you’re 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 a skills health check to help you plan the 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.

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’re 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 centres offering services for carers near you.

Pensions and finance in later life

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

MoneyHelper provides information about the different pensions on offer.

You can claim State Pension while you’re 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 MoneyHelper’s Pension Wise service, a free and impartial government service.

Managing health and disability

The NHS provide useful guidance on how to remain active, healthy and fit.

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

Guidance is available 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.

Age discrimination

ACAS provides guidance if you feel you have been treated unfairly at work because of your age.

What the government is doing to help older workers

The government published the policy paper Fuller Working Lives: a partnership approach in February 2017 with the aim of increasing the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers. The strategy is led by employers who understand the business case to drive change.

Through a combination of measures, the government will monitor progress on Fuller Working Lives. The government will publish annual data on economic labour market status on individuals aged 50 and over, including trends over time.

50 PLUS: Choices – the name change for Fuller Working Lives

We have refreshed the name for the Fuller Working Lives (FWL) agenda to 50 PLUS: Choices. This signals the government’s recognition of the different situations, transitions and challenges currently faced by the over 50s in the labour market. Whilst our commitment to partnership working with employers to encourage age inclusive and flexible working practices remains important, alongside this we also need to ensure a holistic approach to providing early and targeted employment and skills support to help over 50s stay in, progress or return back to work and remain on course to build their future financial resilience.

What does this mean for the 2017 Fuller Working Lives Strategy?

The 2017 FWL strategy demonstrated a commitment to working with employers in supporting activities to become age-inclusive. Under our new name this commitment remains important, and reinforces our key areas of focus, in particular the need to reach those most at risk of experiencing long term unemployment. We therefore need to continue working closely with employers as well ensuring early and targeted employment and skills support to help over 50s stay in or return back to work.

It is hoped and intended that the new name strikes a note of optimism and positivity amongst our cohort - that over 50s workers do indeed have choices linked to staying in or returning back to work and that government is keen to work with stakeholders and employers to help them make the best use of their skills and experience, whilst also building their future financial resilience.