Half of UK adults plan to work past retirement, finds survey

Employers urged to offer more flexible options as older workers shun ‘cliff-edge’ retirement

Over half of adults are planning to carry on working in their retirement, a survey has found, as experts highlight the importance of employers giving workers control over how they chose to retire.

The poll of 2,400 people in the UK, conducted by Fidelity International, found that while most workers planned to retire from their primary job at the age of 66, 52 per cent expected the would continue to work at least part time in their retirement.

The survey also found 45 per cent expected to work past the age of 70, and nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) planned to keep working into their 80s.

Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said the findings showed a demand to retire gradually. “Giving people choice about how they choose to work is important. Many people no longer want cliff-edge retirement where you just stop working one day. Instead, many are choosing phased retirement,” she said.

The employment rate for those aged between 50 and 64 has grown from 55 per cent to 70 per cent over the past 30 years, according to government findings, and employers must ensure they’re prepared for this ageing workforce, said Miller.

“With an ageing population, more people are working longer and employers need to ensure their people management approach fits the needs of a multi-generational workforce,” she said.

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“Older workers bring with them a wealth of both job and life experience, but employers need to make people want to stay. For example, can people work flexibly to balance caring responsibilities with work?”

The survey also found that higher earners were more likely to plan to retire later. Over half (58 per cent) of higher earners – defined as those earning £50,000 or more – planned to work past retirement age, compared to 50 per cent of those on lower incomes.

But despite the findings reflecting longer working lives for higher earners, experts warned that some people will work for longer than they would like.

Steve Webb, former pensions minister and director of policy at Royal London, noted that those who are better off might find it easier to secure a part-time roles, change to being self-employed or become a member of a board in later life. “For those who are in good health and who enjoy what they do, carrying on working, perhaps with reduced hours, can be fulfilling and rewarding,” he said.

But Webb added: “It’s important not to forget the large numbers of people who expect to work on not because they want to, but because they have to.

“A growing number of people will reach retirement without enough pension saving for a comfortable retirement and they may have to go on working long past the point when they would have wanted to stop.”