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Extending working life and the management of change. Is the workplace ready for the ageing worker?

Wainwright, David, Crawford, Joanne, Loretto, Wendy, Phillipson, Christopher, Robinson, Mark, Shepherd, Sue, Vickerstaff, Sarah, Weyman, Andrew (2018) Extending working life and the management of change. Is the workplace ready for the ageing worker? Ageing and Society, . pp. 1-23. ISSN 0144-686X. E-ISSN 1469-1779. (doi:10.1017/S0144686X18000569)


Increasing longevity and the strain on state and occupational pensions have brought into question long held assumptions about the age of retirement, and raised the prospect of a workplace populated by ageing workers. In the United Kingdom the default retirement age has gone, incremental increases in state pension age are being implemented, and ageism has been added to workplace anti-discrimination laws. These changes are yet to bring about the anticipated transformation in workplace demographics, but it is coming, making it timely to ask if the workplace is ready for the ageing worker and how the extension of working life will be managed.

We report findings from qualitative case studies of five large organisations located in the United Kingdom. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with employees, line managers, occupational health staff and human resource managers. Our findings reveal a high degree of uncertainty and ambivalence among workers and managers regarding the desirability and feasibility of extending working life; wide variations in how older workers are managed within workplaces; a gap between policies and practices; and evidence that while casualization might be experienced negatively by younger workers, it may be viewed positively by financially secure older workers seeking flexibility. We conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing employers and policy-makers in making the modern workplace fit for the ageing worker.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0144686X18000569
Uncontrolled keywords: Extending-working-life; ageing-worker; retirement; pensions; flexible-working
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Lucie Patch
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 08:44 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2019 12:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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