Nearly half of UK employees (47 per cent) will be older than 70 before they retire, up from 37 per cent in 2017

s who say they will work beyond the age of 65 has remained at three-quarters (72 per cent) for the second year running, significantly higher than in 2016 (67 per cent) and 2015 (61 per cent), according to Canada Life Group Insurance.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of those who say they expect to work beyond 65 will be older than 70 before they retire, up from 37 per cent in 2017, while almost a fifth (17 per cent) expect to be older than 75. Workers aged 35-44 are most likely to say they expect to retire after their 75th birthday (27 per cent).

Rising cost of living forces over 20 million into late retirement[2]

A series of economic factors are driving employees to work for longer. Nine in 10 (90 per cent) UK employees say that the rising cost of living is the main reason why they expect to work beyond 65 with 87 per cent saying the same of poor returns on savings due to low interest rates, with consumers still yet to see last November’s interest rate rise passed on[3], and 86 per cent of employees point towards inflation.

Table: Number and per cent of employees who will work beyond 65 due to heightened cost of living

  per cent Number Difference
2018 90 per cent 20.7 million + 16.2 million
2017 21.95 per cent 5.0 million + 0.5 million
2016 24 per cent 4.5 million

 Older workers bring a more diverse set of skills to the UK’s workforce

Opinions remain divided about the UK’s ageing workforce as it brings a new set of challenges for workers to contend with. Over a third (36 per cent) believe that an ageing workforce might mean that older workers will have to re-train or learn new skills to stay in work, while three in ten (30 per cent) think it could make it harder for young people to move up the career ladder. But more than two fifths (41 per cent) are positive that a mix of older and younger employees creates a workforce with a wider range of skills, which is beneficial for employees and employers alike.

This comes as just 6 per cent think the government is helping to promote older workers however, down from one in ten (11 per cent) following last year’s announcement of an increase in the state pension age.[4] So far, only 13 per cent think that employers are encouraging older employees to stay in the workplace, and little more than a sixth (15 per cent) believe that older people are appreciated and respected in the working environment.

Support for older workers in the workplace can come in many different forms, but often the simplest are the most effective. Nearly half of employees (45 per cent) think flexible working or part time opportunities are most important when it comes to supporting an ageing workforce. Out of those planning to work beyond state pension age, 60 per cent say that they would be more likely to work for an employer that offered health and wellbeing benefits.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, comments:

“The combination of an increase in the cost of living, poor returns on savings and inflation continue to impact the UK’s retirement plans. This is the second year in a row that our findings indicate that more than 70 per cent of the country’s workforce expect to work beyond the age of 65, and there is no sign that this trend will slow down any time soon.

“But even as an older workforce becomes more common, the stigma surrounding older workers is proving hard to shake. Employers now have the opportunity to capitalise on the skills of two or even three generations, but only if they address potential generational divides and the changing needs of their employees.

“Alongside promoting the benefits of a more diverse workforce, organisations can attract and retain older workers by offering employee benefits packages which include products such as income protection and critical illness cover that protect staff financially in the event of ill-health. As people get older the need for these immediate health benefits grows, as does the value that employees place on them. These benefits packages also include a wide range of support services – from early intervention to employee assistance programmes and second medical opinion services – all of which can be used without being a claimant and so add additional, daily value to workforces.”

[1] ONS Employment Figures, May 2018

[2] ONS Employment Figures, May 2018

[3] Which? reveals the double standards of some banks following the last base rate rise, 25 April 2018

[4] Proposed new timetable for State Pension age increases, 19 July 2017





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.