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New report shows older workers could be left behind by Covid-19

19th May 2020

Age Scotland has called for more support for older workers, who have been among those hardest hit financially by the coronavirus crisis.

Research by the Resolution Foundation found that older and younger workers have largely borne the brunt of the economic fallout in recent months.

Three in 10 workers aged 60-64 have seen their pay reduced, making them the second hardest hit after the 18-24 age group.

More than one in five "Baby Boomers" (55-74-year-olds) who have regular or "typical" contracts have lost their job, been furloughed or seen their pay and hours reduced, rising to 27 per cent among those who do not have secure contracts.

Older people are also the least happy about being on furlough (48 per cent compared to 65 per cent of 18-24 year olds), perhaps due to additional worries about money, retirement or their health.

Workers aged 55 and over are also the group least likely to be able to work from home, and fewer expect to be able to in the future. Researchers speculate this could be because this group is more settled in the routine of going out to work, dislikes relying on technology or is more likely to work in senior occupations that rely on social interaction.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: "While the focus has quite rightly been on the serious health impact on the oldest and most vulnerable people, many older people who are still in work are also losing out.

"This new research shows that older workers, as well as those under 25, have been hardest hit in terms of losing their job or loss of salary.

"Older workers are also less likely to be able to do their jobs from home, and don't expect to be able to in the future. This could be because of the type of work they do, the need for social interaction in their role, or a lack of familiarity with technology.

"As we take steps to get the economy moving again, there's a real risk that many older workers will be left behind. Since they are more at risk from coronavirus, many will be concerned about returning to their workplaces but unable to afford to stay at home.

"This crisis is likely to have a severe financial impact on those who are planning for retirement, especially if they are on a lower income and have few savings.

“As well as supporting younger workers, we need to ensure there is comprehensive support for those at the other end of the age spectrum. We already know that one in four over-40s has experienced age discrimination in the workplace or when looking for a job.

"There is a very real risk that this will worsen, with older workers potentially seen as more vulnerable. As we return to work, we must makes sure that no one is disadvantaged because of their age or any health concerns."

The Resolution Foundation report can be found at https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/young-workers-in-the-coronavirus-crisis/

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