“Ageing workforce a “ticking time bomb” as employers deal with mental and physical frailties”
Local authorities are sitting on a “ticking time bomb” due to the ageing workforce a Mid Devon officer has said.
In a statement regarding fitness for work issued by the authority, the Council said that they were aware that as the average age of the workforce increases the physical ability to perform manual tasks can become more challenging and ultimately can contribute to higher sickness absence rates attributable to muscular-skeletal conditions. …
… Discussions over the district’s handling of the ageing population were brought up by Councillor Jenny Roach who shared her concerns.
“When you read this report it talks about the individual being fit for work and the authority making sure that a person was fit for work,” she said. “When you get to be over 60, and you’re having to do a hard job you’re not going to be as fit for work as when you’re 28/29. I know you’re talking about people having other skills but in reality what can be done for those people?
“I would prefer it if the authority was saying that this was a major issue as people are having to work longer to keep the money flowing. We should make sure as an authority to make sure that jobs are mechanised as they have done in healthcare.”
Cllr Roach added that the word lifting is no longer used in healthcare, and has been replaced by the term moving and handling and that Mid Devon District Council should look into ways of mechanising jobs to avoid heavy lifting.
She added: “I can think of nothing worse than at 68, having to go out every day in all sorts of weathers when your arthritis is killing you and life heavy boxes. It’s a really big issue, and it’s not usually an issue people of qualifications or high positions will have to worry about. It’s the people who are refuse collectors who will have to continue to do that job.”
Catherine Yandle, Mid Devon’s group manager for performance, governance and data security replied: “Actually, that’s a fallacy. I totally agree that they’re the ones who you think would be impacted more, but in general, that’s not the case. We all lose the ability to think and to react in quite the same way when we get older.
“Unfortunately, because the default retirement age finished about five years ago, we are waiting and sitting on a ticking time bomb of issues with older staff and people whose retirement ages have been lengthened so they have to work longer to get their pensions, who feel the pressure to do so, so they will feel they need to work longer.
“We can’t just look at people’s functional health in respect of their physical wellbeing. We look at cognitive health and how they assimilate information. Because of age discrimination, you can’t say to people that they should retire; there isn’t a default retirement age. If they’re not performing in the way that we want them to be that physical or mental agility, then we will have to go down the capability route with them because there is no way of us dismissing those people unless they chose to go.
“We have a solicitor here who is also a qualified HR practitioner, so we’re very fortunate that we’re able to have somebody who has that understanding. This is very difficult for us as an employer.”
Cllr Roach said she was concerned how the Government was pushing people to work beyond their late 60s, yet being told they no longer are fit to carry out tasks they used to be able to.
“It’s fundamentally wrong, and that is not unfair. I think this Council should be doing something about it,” she added.
However, Ms Yandle added: “I agree with you, I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think it’s right, it leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth of the employer for having to do that, but that’s where we are.
“We could accept a lesser performance, but I don’t think you as councillors would be happy with that, because you want value for money, you are representing the electorate who expect people to be performing at a certain level.”