EU social partners agree to work on an active ageing strategy

The European social partners have reached an agreement on their fifth work programme, reaching from 2015 to 2017. Part of the work programme, agreed by trade unions and employers organisations, sets out an independent programme for the social dialogue in the next three years. Part of this process is work towards active ageing and a better reconciliation of work and family life.

Active ageing at the heart of the new work programme

The social partners, consisting of the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC), Businesseurope, Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services (CEEP) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (UEAPME) have raised active ageing as a first point in their new programme. The main issues are to keep older workers in the labour market and to foster inter-generational transitions to combat youth unemployment. Social partners want therefore to continue the process triggered by the Europe 2020 Strategy, which aims at bringing employment rates to 75%, including for older workers. Measures to be discussed include

  • Working conditions that aim to encourage and enable older workers to remain longer in or come back to the labour market, such as flexible working hours, gradual transitions to retirement, skills upgrading and preventive health and safety regulations and workplace adaptations.
  • Management of the replacement of older workers by recruiting early enough to prevent skills gaps in the company
  • Tutoring, promoting adequate processes to welcome and integrate newcomers in enterprises by assigning mentors
  • Skills transfer, i.e. to develop training and lifelong learning measures to transfer skills

Part of this process is the organisation of a joint fact-finding seminar and by working towards an autonomous framework agreement.

Reconciliation of work and family life, gender equality and skills

Other important points of the work programme include discussing about measures to increase gender equality in employment matters.

On gender equality, social partners want to organise a fact-finding seminar on supporting work-life balance as well as an exchange on existing national legislation to lower the gender pay gap.

The social partners have also committed to addressing new skills needs, including by discussing the validation of informal and non-formal forms of learning.

AGE Platform: important to step up efforts to ensure longer working lives.

AGE Platform Europe welcomes the central place given to active ageing in the work programme, as enabling longer working lives is central to achieving sustainable and adequate old-age income for all population groups. The promotion of life-long learning and the redefinition of the role of older employees in the workplace, as well as a ambitious health and safety framework have to be part of such a strategy. For AGE, this process has to be taken even further, addressing directly the problem of discrimination of older workers in the labour market, as many are dismissed or not hired solely because of stereotypes regarding their age. The needs of the most vulnerable groups of older workers, such as older women and older migrant, have to be taken on board in such a strategy as well.

The importance of the focus on inter-generational exchange is also welcomed by AGE. Older workers should be seen as enrichment to any enterprise, even if this means to shift their roles from an operative one to a mentoring role.

The complete work programme of the social partners can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel, Policy Officer, at the AGE Secretariat:

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