Nearly a third of respondents intending to work beyond state pension age who have taken part in a new national survey believe that employers won't want to hire older workers, despite new laws designed to prevent age discrimination in the workplace coming into force on 1 October 2006.
Kate Jopling, senior policy manager at Help the Aged, comments: 'Despite the government passing new laws to protect older workers, many people simply don't believe that British bosses will hire them once they reach 65. Employers need to realise that just because someone has reached a certain age, it doesn't mean they aren't fit for work. In fact, our survey shows that 80 per cent of people consider older workers to be more loyal and dedicated than many other age groups in the workplace.
'With the onset of new age regulations in a few days' time, ageist attitudes and practices at work will become not just outdated, but illegal. The health of the UK economy depends on older workers, so it really is time that age was celebrated as an asset instead of treated by too many employers as a hindrance.'
Key findings of the survey include:
* 28 per cent of those people questioned who intend to work past state pension age said they really wanted to stay working for the simple reason that they enjoy their job and don't wish to give it up.
* 17 per cent stated that they needed to carry on working past state retirement age because they needed the money, while a quarter of respondents said they felt working after 65 gave them a sense of purpose in life.
* 25 per cent of people in the 16 - 24 age group said they wanted to carry on working beyond state pension age so that they can build up a bigger pension pot, reflecting the real concern many younger people feel about their retirement provision.
* Two-thirds of respondents to the survey believe that modern workplaces are ageist. 65 per cent of people questioned agreed with this view, while only 29 per cent disagreed.
* Among the 45 - 54 age group, the number of people who said they agreed with this view climbs to 70 per cent, with 72 per cent of people aged 55 - 64 believing it to be true.
Ms Jopling concludes: 'Only 43 per cent of people questioned said they were aware of the new regulations coming into law on 1 October. The government has a serious job to do to make sure that older workers know they can take action against employers who force them to retire before 65, or refuse them promotion or work simply because of their age. It's also clear from our survey that the public believe that older workers have enormous amounts to offer in terms of loyalty, dedication and flexibility - any employer who makes business decisions on the grounds of age is clearly stuck in the history books.
'While the new regulations will make a difference, it's regrettable that the government has seen fit to continue to allow employers to force people to retire at 65. The concept of an enforced retirement age should be consigned to the dustbin, but ministers don't seem to agree, despite many of them approaching state pension age themselves. Help the Aged believes that older people have much to offer UK plc - it's a real shame the government isn't quite so convinced.'
*GfK NOP questioned 1000 nationally representative people in the UK aged 16 and above over 15th - 17th September 2006 via telephone.