AGE calls on the Employment Committee (EMCO) to find innovative ways to retain older workers in the labour market

Ahead of their meeting on 17-18 February, AGE shared with EMCO members its concerns and recommendations on the draft Joint Employment Report to be adopted by EPSCO on 8-9 March 2010.

The inclusiveness of the labour market is set to become even more challenging as the impact of the crisis spills over into the area of employment, placing certain groups of workers such as young people and those aged 50+ in a particularly vulnerable situation. AGE believes that Member States should avoid reverting to measures such as early retirement and should rather focus on the provision of better employment opportunities for older workers, supporting the upgrading of their skills to facilitate their labour market re-entry and improved incentives for them to continue working via pension systems and other tax/benefit structures.

The age discrimination which older workers face in employment and the discriminatory approaches of many employers that prevent many of them from staying at work as long as they require or wish to, despite the existing legal framework, need to be tackled and a more proactive and positive approach to promoting an age friendly and age neutral workplace needs to be taken. This includes the discussion of the validity of mandatory retirement ages.

AGE members have noted that there is a huge problem of staff shortages in many sectors, especially the care and services industries, and innovative solutions must be found to support quality employment of older workers in these sectors. In a similar vane, employment policies should be developed with the concept of promoting solidarity between the generations. By enabling older workers to work until the official retirement age and encouraging them to remain active past retirement, one is not taking away jobs from the younger generations; one is rather mobilising all generations to work and to participate actively in our society.

The gender dimension and specific challenges that older female workers face is an essential aspect to be taken into greater account. The notion of reconciling work and family life needs to be better accommodated as many older workers, in particular women aged 50+, make a substantial contribution as informal carers for their dependant relatives and solutions need to be found to enable them to better reconcile their work and care responsibilities.

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