CSR and the Ageing Population

A new CSR initiative will develop best practice for companies relating to older employees in the workforce.

Launched by CSR Europe, the initiative will be led by Johnson & Johnson, GDF Suez and Intel. It is being developed in support of the European Year for Active Ageing, which takes place in 2012.

One of the key goals of the Year is to promote active ageing in employment. The aim of the CSR Europe group, is to provide useful tools for companies to improve Human Resources policies targeted at Europe’s ageing workforce.

Although this is a valuable CSR programme, it is also important for business survival. People aged 50 or over already represent 20% of the European workforce and this will rise to 25%.

By 2050, older people will make up an estimated 22% of the population. In the developed world, the proportion is even higher – at 33%.

This will have an increasing impact on family and friends, and already 25% of the European population is an informal carer in or outside the family.

This particular project believes that helpful tools and advice can be developed and supported via information and communications technology (ICT). However, in order to develop them, it is seeking advice and examples of best practice from companies across Europe.

One element which the project is considering is examining how work-life balance will impact differently on older workers. For example, promoting flexible working for all employees to take care of dependent relatives.

However, this initiative will also look at how companies will need to work more closely with older people to ensure the provision of appropriate products and services. This will include studying and disseminating new models of home and community care to support independent living for an ageing population.

In keeping with the focus on ICT, this CSR joint venture will also look at how new technologies can help with health and medical issues for older people. These include: preventative healthcare, disease management and wellbeing.
An ageing work population is a live issue for employers in the UK. Final regulations to change the default retirement age have just gone before Parliament. At present, the retirement age in the UK is 65. This means that employers can compel employees to retire once they reach that age. Once the legislation comes into effect on 6 April 2011, that will no longer be the case.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted leave to appeal to a lawyer and partner in his firm who was forced to retire because he had reached 65. He is claiming that he was subject to unlawful age discrimination. The outcome of his case will set a precedent for other people over 65 who feel they have been forced out due to their age.

Photo credit: lanchongzi