AGE welcomes the amendments made by the European Parliament following the demand of Anne Van Lancker MEP in her draft report on the Commission’s Employment Guidelines text. The Parliament calls on Member States to continue their efforts to reach the targets of full employment, quality jobs, equal opportunities and social cohesion.
To reach these targets the EP amended the text in the following way, indicating that Member States:
- should focus on strengthening the social dimension of the Employment Guidelines;
- promote a lifestyle approach to work by fighting discrimination based on gender and age by adopting measures to ensure that people combining work and care are not penalised later in life regarding their pensions and social security benefits and by encouraging workers to prolong their working lives if they wish to retire later;
- ensure the active social integration of all and tackle poverty and social exclusion by guaranteeing a decent income and better access to quality social services together with better access to the labour market through the expansion of job opportunities and initial or ongoing vocational training;
- expand lifelong learning opportunities.
AGE warmly supports these recommendations as older people often face discrimination in employment related to their age. Activation policies for the labour market need to break down barriers between age groups in the work place, and should take a holistic approach to the needs and wishes of workers of all ages with respect to motivation, time management, and income and social protection issues.
AGE believes that what is needed to raise the employment rate of older workers is the introduction of a range of flexible working arrangements to ensure that work remains within their capability as their life circumstances change; the availability of high quality working conditions which enable older workers, in particular women, to combine work with family duties; skills development through the provision of opportunities for life-long learning and the promotion of a positive approach among employers to older workers.
Furthermore, in addition to maintaining a diverse and vibrant labour market, the extension of working lives is important both in terms of financing sustainable social protection systems and in preventing poverty in old age. AGE considers that the real gains are to be made not by forcing people to wait longer (often in unemployment) before receiving their pensions, but in enabling people to work productively as long as they wish before moving into a productive and active retirement period. The European Parliament report is therefore a positive step in this direction.
AGE also welcomes these recommendations as they support AGE’s call for intergenerational solidarity to be mainstreamed in the flexicurity approach and EU employment policies.