Over-50s redundancy rises to 240% amidst pandemic

Katie Hoare
By Katie Hoare,
updated on Feb 16, 2021

Over-50s redundancy rises to 240% amidst pandemic

A new report has revealed that redundancy amongst over-50s rose by 240% in 2020, with campaigners warning the worst is yet to come

Data from Rest Less, a digital community supporting over-50s revealed that redundancies in this age bracket rose from 4.2% per 1,000 employees to 14.4% per 1,000 last year. That meant 35,000 people were made redundant between January and March, rising to 121,000 by November.

Fronting a campaign to end high redundancy rates in the over-50s due to the pandemic, Stuart Lewis fears the worst is yet to come as over half a million older workers still remain on furlough, and re-employment may be the biggest challenge yet.

“With businesses suffering in the wake of the pandemic, we knew redundancies were going to be high as furlough was originally scheduled to end last October.

"Even though redundancy rates amongst the over-50s have never been this high, our concern is that there is worse still to come with more than 640,000 over-55s still on furlough."

Speaking to his concern that re-employment may be extremely tough, Mr Lewis added, “The recruitment process is where age discrimination bites hardest, particularly at this time when the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities in the workplace.”

Dr Anna Dixon from the Centre for Ageing Better raised concerns when speaking to the Guardian, that whilst it appears the over-50s weren’t the hardest hit by redundancies - Rest Less' study revealed that on paper, 25-34 year olds were worst affected - it is the over-50s who are most likely to struggle with re-employment.

Dr Dixon said, “While it superficially looks like older workers will be ‘second-hardest’ hit by job losses in this recession, once we factor in the fact that it is older workers who are at greatest risk of long-term unemployment, it is clear that after this pandemic there could be a lost generation of unemployed over-50s forced into an early retirement they neither want nor can afford.”

How to copy with redundancy

Business and life coach Tricia Jones notes that even the word ‘redundancy’ is hard to hear, often conjuring up many negative feelings, that span beyond worrying financial implications. She says, “It is so easy to start thinking that you are no longer useful or needed and forget that it’s not you but the position you held which is redundant."

But, Tricia adds this can be a time of important self-reflection, “Give yourself time to think about what you really want and need from life.”

You can do this by asking yourself Tricia’s following questions, and focus on both your age and experience as your advantage, they do after all bring a new perspective to the table:

  • did I really love my old job?
  • do I want to find a similar job?
  • what would I really like to do?
  • what am I good at?
  • what are my unique selling points?
  • do I want to try something different?
  • do I have the required skills?
  • how can my skills be used in a different way?
  • would I like to train for something different?
  • would I like to study something new?
  • do I want to be an employee?
  • would I like to work for myself?

If you can, try to take control over your redundancy and reframe your thinking, for example, you personally weren’t made redundant, the position was made redundant. Even simple tweaks to your language can help self-soothe when you’re struggling to comprehend redundancy.

Support for older workers

Whilst it may seem bleak at the moment, hope is on the horizon, and there are a number of sources available to support you through an undoubtedly worrying, and challenging time.

A government spokesman responded to growing concerns over re-employment for older workers, noting they are “a vital asset to this country and hugely employable.” A new Work Academy Programme is now in place to support older workers in retraining and getting back into the workplace.

Rest Less is a welcoming digital community dedicated to offering advice, support and inspiration to people over-50 on all manner of life including health, career, financial wellbeing, dating and volunteering.  

Independent charitable foundation, Centre for Ageing Better, is a not-for-profit organisation working tirelessly to create change in policies to improve health, employment and housing for people aged 65 and over. They have a host of information and guidance for older generations on their website.

If you’re struggling with redundancy or furlough, you can reach out to a life coach via Life Coach Directory who can help guide you through coping with redundancy and support you on your new path.

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