Older low-income workers far more likely to leave work due to ill health

TUC warn that the report illustrates a “stark class divide” weighted against low-paid older workers

Commentary icon2 Mar 2023|Comment

Peter Lazenby

Northern Reporter, Morning Star

Older people in poorly paid jobs are more likely to be forced to give up work because of long-term health problems, a damning new report has concluded.

The TUC, which produced the report, warned that it illustrated a “stark class divide” weighted against low-paid older workers, especially black or minority ethnic (BME) people, who were found to account for 75 per cent of older workers forced out of their jobs by ill-health.

And the problem is getting worse, it says, with the number of people aged 50-65 neither working nor looking for a job because of poor health surging by more than 20 per cent in the last three years to 1.5 million.

The TUC argued that plans to tackle labour shortages by helping more older workers remain in work must deal with “long-running structural inequalities” that result in low-paid and BME workers being pushed out of work for health reasons.

It also condemned calls by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt for older workers to get off the golf course as insulting and ill-informed.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “There is a stark class divide in this country when it comes to health and work.

“People in working-class professions are far more likely to have to leave their jobs early because of sickness.

“Instead of insulting workers and telling them ‘to come off the golf course,’ ministers should be dealing with these health inequalities that are forcing people out of the labour market.

“That means dealing with the staffing crisis in our public services so that people can get treatment earlier.

“It also means making sure there are good jobs available for older people, with stronger rights to retrain and work flexibly that would help them to stay in work longer.

“And it means halting plans for further rises in the pension age that will just consign more Britons to years of poverty and ill health.”

The TUC is calling for career reviews for older workers, retraining opportunities, more flexible working, investment in the NHS to improve access to care and publication of a review of the state pension age, which was completed in October.

This article was originally published in the Morning Star

Peter Lazenby

Peter Lazenby is from Leeds and is the Northern Reporter at Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Britain,... Read more »