| Solace in work
Objective 1: Recognition of the social, cultural, economic and political contribution of older persons.
Actions: (a) Take into account the needs and concerns of older persons in decisionmaking at all levels;
(b) Encourage, when they do not already exist, the establishment of organizations of older persons at all levels to, inter alia, represent older persons in decision-making;
(c) Take measures to enable the full and equal participation of older persons, in particular older women, in decision-making at all levels...
Older persons should be enabled to continue with income-generating work for as long as they want and for as long as they are able to do so productively. Unemployment, underemployment and labour market rigidities often prevent this, thus restricting opportunities for individuals and depriving society of their energies and skills. Implementation of commitment of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development on promoting the goal of full employment is fundamentally important for these very reasons, as are the strategies and policies outlined in the Programme of Action 4 of the World Summit and the further initiatives for growth of employment recommended by the twenty-fourth special session of the general assembly. There is a need to increase awareness in the workplace of the benefits of maintaining an ageing work force.
In developing countries and countries with economies in transition, most persons who are now old and who work are engaged in the informal economy, which often deprives them of the benefits of adequate working conditions and social protection provided by the formal sector economy. The life expectancy in many developed countries and countries with economies in transition exceeds the established retirement or pension age. In these countries, moreover, fewer persons are entering the labour market because of the decrease in the birth rate; this trend is often accompanied by age discrimination. Labour shortages are likely to occur resulting from the decline in the pool of young persons entering the labour market, the ageing workforce and the tendency towards early retirement. In this context, policies to extend employability, such as flexible retirement, new work arrangements, adaptive work environments and vocational rehabilitation for older persons with disabilities are essential and allow older persons to combine paid employment with other activities.
Factors affecting older women in the labour market deserve special attention, in particular those factors that affect women’s engagement in paid work, including lower salaries, lack of career development due to interrupted work histories, family care obligations and their ability to build pensions and other resources for their retirement. A lack of family-friendly policy regarding the organization of work can increase these difficulties. Poverty and low income during women’s earning years can often lead to poverty in old age. An integral goal of the International Plan of Action is to achieve age diversity and gender balance in the workplace.
In addressing the goal of employment for all, it must be recognized that the continued employment of older workers need not reduce labour market opportunities for younger persons and can provide an ongoing and valuable contribution to the improvement of national economic performance and output for the benefit of all members of society. The overall economy can also benefit from other plans to use the experience and skills of older workers to train younger and newer employees.
Where potential labour shortages exist, major changes in existing incentive structures may be needed in order to encourage more workers to willingly defer full retirement and continue to be employed, whether as part-time or as full-time employees. Human resources management practices and policies should take into account and address some of the specific needs of older employees.
Appropriate adjustments may be needed to the workplace environment and working conditions to ensure that older workers have skills, health and capacity to remain employed into their later years. This suggests that employers, workers’ organizations and human resource personnel should pay closer attention to emerging workplace practices, both domestic and international, that might facilitate the retention and productive fulfilment of older workers in the workforce.
Objective 1: Employment opportunities for all older persons who want to work.
Actions : (a) Place employment growth at the heart of macroeconomic policies, for example by ensuring that labour market policies aim to foster high rates of growth in production and employment for the benefit of persons of all ages;
(b) Enable older persons to continue working as long as they want to work and are able to do so;