On their website, the Government states that it "is committed to changing perceptions of older workers amongst employers and promoting the business benefits of maintaining an age-diverse workforce." It points to several initiatives it has undertaken in order to encourage employers to employ older workers. In particular, they have introduced regional older workers' champions in Jobcentre Plus offices and they are also conducting trials into some back to work support options for those over the age of 45. The Government also points to the abolition of the default retirement age and the extension of the right to request flexible working, as other actions which have been taken to encourage the employment or retention of older workers.
It is well known that Britain is currently an ageing population and it is estimated that in 2022 there will be 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and state pension age and, at the same time, there will be 700,000 less people aged between 16 and 49. Therefore, arguably, unless the employment of older workers does increase, the economy will be negatively effected. Indeed, the Government estimates that there are currently 1.2 million people who are between 50 and the state pension age who are unemployed but have a desire to work. The DWP believe that getting half of these into work could increase GDP by up to £25 billion a year.
In terms of the protection which the law offers, it is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010, since the abolition of the default retirement age, to not hire someone or to dismiss them because they have reached a certain age unless it can be objectively justified. Despite this change in the law, there may still be a perception among employers, particularly in certain sectors such as computer technology, that older workers are less suited to the work than younger workers. However, an Age UK study found that, instead, "older workers are as productive and willing to work as flexibly as their younger counterparts". Further it found that taking advantage of the skills which older workers can offer would benefit the economy overall.