Gone are the days when people routinely retired at the age of 65. Since October 2011, employers have no longer been allowed to issue forced retirement notices to their employees, thanks to the abolition of the default retirement age. And that’s been good news for anyone wanting to work after they can start claiming their state pension.
More people are choosing to work these days instead of retiring, with 28% of the current working population of the UK aged 50 or older. That figure looks set to rise with the Office for National Statistics estimating a third of workers will be 50+ by 2020.
And with the state pension age starting to rise in a few years, many more workers in the future will have little choice than to keep working past 65 (by 2044, the state pension age will have climbed to 68). We’re also – on the whole – living longer. So why not work longer too?
Indeed, scientists from Oregon State University suggest working past the age of 65 could help you live longer, even if you’re not in the best of health. Their study found that healthy retirees who worked just 1 year longer had an 11% lower risk of mortality, while unhealthy retirees working 1 more year had a 9% lower mortality risk compared with those who retired on time.
Many people may also find living a life of leisure in retirement isn’t quite the enjoyable experience they thought it would be. In the US for instance, a recent study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute suggests more people are dissatisfied with retirement than ever – possibly because their finances aren’t as rosy as they‘d expected.
But working longer and delaying taking your pension can help boost your income when you do retire (for every 9 weeks you defer taking your state pension it increases by 1%).
There are many examples of people working past 65 and into their 70s and beyond. Both candidates for this year’s US presidential election are well past the age considered appropriate for retirement (Donald Trump is, at the time of writing, 70 while Hilary Clinton is approaching 69) – and neither seems likely to start slowing down any time soon, whatever the election’s outcome. Here in the UK, the Queen is also still working at the age of 90.
There are many others too, including:
- Author and former editor Diana Athill, whose most recent book was published in 2015 when she was 97 years young.
- Eric Avebury, who died earlier this year but was a Liberal Democrat peer and human rights campaigner well into his 80s.
- Ivan Roitt, an emeritus professor at the Centre for Investigative and Diagnostic Oncology at Middlesex University and soon to celebrate his 89th birthday.
- Jean Miller, who at 93 was still putting in 3 days a week at a hairdressing salon in Glasgow, where she’d worked since she was 75.
Scaling back your hours
Staying on at work for longer may sound like a good idea, but few people in their 60s and older may want to work the same long hours as they did earlier in their career – even if they don’t have a physically or emotionally demanding job. If this applies to you, you can make a request for flexible working.
Flexible working can mean several things, including working fewer hours, working some or all of the time from home, working certain hours and – for people working past state pension age – phased retirement (this means you can reduce your hours and work part time).
You can apply for flexible working if you’ve worked continuously for the same employer for the last 26 weeks. You simply write to your employer requesting flexible working, then your employer has to consider your request. Normally they have to make a decision within 3 months.
There’s lots more information about flexible working on gov.uk, including how to apply and what you can do if your employer turns your request down.
Start your own business
Another option is to start your own business. In fact, more people aged 50 and older are starting their own business than any other age group. And it’s easy to see why, since being self-employed means you can work as many, or as few hours as you like, as well as have the freedom to choose the type of work you want to do.
Being self-employed isn’t for everyone, so if you’re considering this option find out as much as you can about it as possible. Start by reading about setting up a business on gov.uk; or if you live in Wales, you can also get help from the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise, a registered charity supporting people aged 50 and older who want to stay at work.
If you’re thinking of setting up your own business and are currently unemployed or facing redundancy, you could qualify for our business start-up fund of up to £2,000. We’ll also help provide the support you need to get your idea off the ground. Call +44(0) 1788 556 366 to chat to an advisor about our business start-up funds.
For advice and information call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.