The Employment Regulations (Flexible Working) Bill aims to give employees greater flexibility. Better flexible working for all: what about older workers and their changing needs?d?
May 21, 2023

The PeopleAlchemist Edit: change & transformation, business & lifestyle experimentation for TheWomanAlchemist – #Unlock #Ignite #Transform – Older workers and their changing needs



This month I celebrated yet another birthday (PS: check out my special birthday month offers in my bookshop). And with one more birthday comes the realisation of how life priorities have personally and professionally changed.

As you grow older, what was important in your twenties or thirties is not soo important now, including what work and a career mean to you. Some people also face health challenges as they age.

But how is the world of work dealing with older workers and their changing needs?


The Employment Regulations (Flexible Working) Bill


The UK Government currently appears to progress many employment law rights through several private member’s bills introduced to Parliament last year. The Employment Regulations (Flexible Working) Bill, which aims to give employees greater flexibility over when, how and where they work, is one of those.

Under the Bill, employees can make two flexible requests in 12 months instead of the current one.

Employers will have just two months to answer such requests instead of the current three months. Additionally, they will need to consult with employees on alternative options before rejecting a flexible working request.

Following the Government’s reply to the consultation on flexible working, posted in December 2022, separate regulations will also permit employees to request flexible working from day one of their employment. This is instead of the current 26 weeks of continuous service necessary before making a request.

The Government has stressed that this remains a right to request and not a given right to such arrangements. Moreover, there are no changes to the eight business grounds for refusing a request, as set out in the existing legislation.


Potential Impact


One might argue that these changes’ impact on the flexible working regime is unlikely to be radical in the context of the post-Covid workplace. Many businesses adjusted to non-standard working practices throughout the various lockdowns.

Regardless, with these new rules, many companies might have to adapt to measures they once thought were temporary permanently. This would include updating their flexible working policies, like the requirement to consult with employees and the tighter timeframe for considering flexible working requests.

Furthermore, much more attention is needed for the growing group of older workers aged 50 and above. Many older workers would like to work more than they do – albeit flexibly.


Understanding older workers (and their changing needs) report (CIPD)


The CIPD Understanding older workers report highlights that over 10.4 million older workers account for 33% of the workforce, and over 1.2 million workers are over 65. These are considerable figures, not to be underestimated.

The report makes some essential suggestions, like:

  • Companies should consider flexible working requests from older workers more carefully. Currently, the 50 – 64 age group is more dissatisfied with their hours than any others even though over 50 per cent have long service. This suggests they are either not requesting flexible working (why?), or it has been denied;
  • Organisations should also look at redesigning jobs to best use the knowledge and technical skills of the older workforce nearing retirement;
  • Older workers should have equal access to training and progression opportunities. No assumption on whether they are less likely to want them. 


Different points of view to consider


From a business standpoint, I can understand the need to balance the costs of catering for older workers (like occupational health service and reasonable adjustments) with the uptakes and prepare for the future with the younger generation. Where to invest when the funds are limited?

From a customer standpoint, however, companies might want to consider that their employees and their customers grow older. Companies need to understand and cater for their needs too. 

Notwithstanding the apparent discriminatory legislation, a balanced workforce in skills, knowledge, age and priorities leads to more sustainable adaptable companies that are more representative of society as a whole (aka the customer base).

The important this is not to make assumptions either way.

Do not assume that older workers want to retire and younger workers want promotions. Or any other deductions.

The key is to ask, understand older workers and their changing needs, learn and adapt.



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Laura Mariani

Laura Mariani

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Change & Transformation Expert


Hi there, I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do provide me with feedback.

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Laura xxx

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