The Department for Work and Pensions has sent a signal that it values its older members of staff and will pursue “age positive” recruitment policies by joining up to a national initiative designed to promote inclusive working practices.
Permanent secretary Peter Schofield said DWP would also encourage other departments to sign up to the Centre for Ageing Better’s Age-friendly Employer Pledge. Among the commitments involved are creating an age-friendly culture; hiring “age-positively”; being flexible about flexible working; encouraging career development at all ages; and ensuring staff have the health support they need.
DWP is the biggest government department by headcount and had a total of 94,160 staff as of last March, according to the most recent set of civil service statistics issued by the Cabinet Office.
According to that data, 48% of DWP’s employees were aged 50 or over – a significantly higher proportion than the 38% of the overall civil service headcount. A breakdown of DWP’s staff by age found 32,600 were in the 50-59 age bracket; 10,300 were aged 60-64; and 2,790 were aged 65 or over.
Schofield said he was “very proud” of his department’s record on age-positivity and that it was an ongoing mission.
“DWP is leading the way as a workplace where all our staff can thrive – whether at the start of their career or experienced members of the workforce,” he said.
“Signing this pledge shows our continued determination to support our colleagues throughout their working life.
“From offering mid-life MOTs, our menopause network and embedding flexible working, we are committed to making DWP an inclusive place to work for all ages.”
Catherine Vaughan, who is director general for finance and DWP age champion, said older staff provided invaluable expertise, skills and experience for the department’s work.
“I’m pleased that by signing the Age-friendly Employer Pledge we’re continuing to show how much DWP values an age-diverse workforce,” she said.
“This will provide a tangible boost to help all our staff feel valued and supported whatever their age.”
The Centre for Ageing Better launched a guide to help employers become more age-friendly in 2018. At the time, it also launched the results of research on barriers – both real and perceived – faced by workers aged 50 or over.
It suggested that 14% of over-50s believed they had been turned down for a job because of their age after their landmark birthday. Almost one-in-five survey respondents said they had considered hiding their age when they applied for a job. Meanwhile, 46% of respondents felt their age would disadvantage them in applying for a job.