These findings come as employer contributions have now risen to 20 per cent in the month of August.

New research by Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for the over 50s, finds that a third of all employees still on furlough are aged 50 or over.

This, the study finds, is a proportion which has steadily been rising since the start of the year.

Recent data released by HMRC found that the total number of furloughed jobs fell from 2.4 million to 1.9 million between May and June – a fall over over half a million (590,000).

However, whilst the proportion of under 30s on furlough fell from almost a third (29 per cent) to a fifth (21 per cent) during this period, the number of employees aged 50 or over on furlough has risen.

In January 2021, workers aged 50 or over constituted over a quarter of those on furlough (27 per cent). By June 2021, this had risen to over a third (34 per cent).

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, stated that these findings show the “recovery is clearly not working for everyone”:

The country is reopening, and the total number of people on furlough is falling quickly – by three million since the beginning of the year.  However, the recovery is clearly not working for everyone, with more than 630,000 people aged over 50 still on furlough and waiting to find out if they have a job to go back to.  This is in addition to the 568,000 over 50s claiming job seeking or out of work benefits.

When the furlough scheme draws to a close next month, we’re expecting it to be accompanied by a fresh wave of redundancies and another spike in unemployment levels – delivering another blow to workers in their 50s and 60s.

Previous research highlighted the rampant age discrimination faced by workers over 45.

Hiring managers surveyed felt that less than a fifth (17 per cent) of candidates aged over 45 were application ready, only 18 per cent have relevant skills or experience and one in seven (15 per cent) have the right fit with company culture.

In addition, Mr. Lewis discussed the long-term unemployment and age discrimination that older workers face within the recruitment process:

Faced with significant age discrimination in the recruitment process, and no Government equivalent to the Kickstart scheme for older workers – the implications of redundancy for workers in their late 50s or early 60s can be significant.

Once made redundant, workers over the age of 50 are two and a half times as likely to be in long term unemployment than their younger counterparts. Rather than being able to top up their pensions in those crucial years before retirement, many will find themselves having to dip into what pension savings they do have – leading to a significant drop in long term retirement income for decades to come.

Faced with the increased likelihood of long-term unemployment due to age discrimination in the recruitment process, many could find themselves forced into an early retirement they neither want, nor can afford. For those less fortunate, that means potentially many years on job-seeking benefits before they can access the safety net of the state pension.

As such, Rest Less has called for more tailored support to be offered to candidates aged 50 or over in a similar way to how the Kickstart Scheme offers help to younger people.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.