Third of workers feel ‘forced to retire’ because of age discrimination

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Almost a third of workers feel ‘forced to retire’ earlier than they would like to because of ageism, according to a new national study.

The survey of 4,000 over-50s found that 30 per cent of respondents believed they had been made to leave prematurely, with the proportion 10 per cent higher among women than men.

Siobhan Daniels left her job as a broadcast journalist in Tunbridge Wells aged 60, despite originally wanting to work for many more years.

“In the workplace I felt marginalised and voiceless and I went into the toilet one day at work and just broke down and I was sobbing and I just thought ‘I can’t do this anymore, I need to get out of this’. So, that’s when I first started thinking I need to retire at 60.”

“I felt totally disrespected as an older, more experienced member of the staff,” Siobhan added.

After leaving her job in 2019, Siobhan sold her flat and bought a campervan. She now tours the country giving talks on ageism and has written a book about her experiences.

Her advice for those facing similar hurdles in the workplace is: “don’t be afraid to speak out”.

“Women need to speak to women more about what is the reality of what is going on in the workplace.”

Boots the chemist has been recognised for its work challenging age discrimination.

The ‘Unretirement Uprising’ report by 55/Redefined also found that 65 per cent of over-50s believe their age works against them when applying for jobs, while 70 per cent feel that it is difficult to pursue new career opportunities.

Lyndsey Simpson, from the campaign group, said: "The relationship between the over-50s and work is broken.

"While progress has been made across other diversity and inclusion measures, age is falling by the wayside and it's not just morally wrong, but fiscally irresponsible.

"In a struggling economy, awash with job vacancies, the over-50s could solve the UK's talent problems, but action needs to be taken.”

Earlier this year, Boots was one large employer recognised for its work recruiting and retaining older staff.

Andrew Jones, area manager for the chemist chain in Hampshire, said: “Making sure we have a workforce that is representative of the broad age range of people that we serve every day is really important to us. More than 25 per cent of our in-store workforce is over 50.

“Certainly within the Hampshire area, we have a number of colleagues who are working well into their 70s… those team members are really valuable in terms of the experience and empathy they can bring.”

A spokesperson for the BBC, Siobhan Daniels’ former employer, said: “We take the welfare of our staff seriously and have a zero tolerance approach to bullying. We have robust processes in place for staff to raise concerns and these are handled with the utmost seriousness.”

The Equality Act offers a number of protections against discrimination. Those with concerns are advised to seek independent advice.