United Kingdom

One in twelve continue to work beyond retirement

July 2019


  • Numbers of those working past state retirement age has doubled in the past decade
  • 53,000 over 80s are currently in work, with 75 percent working part time
  • Less generous pension schemes, increased life expectancy and need to top up pension savings are some of the reasons behind delayed retirement


Workers in hard hats

One in twelve men and women in their 70s and over are choosing to stay in work, according to new research.

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) provided to Rest Less, a jobs board for the over 50s market found that the number of over 70s continuing to work in some capacity has more than doubled over the past decade.

The Rest Less analysis of ONS data found that the numbers of over 70s who are continuing to work rose to 497,946 at the beginning of this year, a 135 per cent increase since 2009, equating to 1 in 12 (8.1 per cent) of the total workforce. Ten years ago however, 1 in 22 (4.5 per cent) of over 70s were still in work.

The research in Living the Dream report, found that most people do not feel they are saving enough for their long term needs, with one in three expecting to have a lower standard of living in retirement.

The Rest Less analysis also found that:

  • 1 in 9 men (323,000) in their 70s are still in work in comparison to 136,000 in 2009, an increase of 137 per cent, while the number of over 70s men working full time has trebled since 2009, from 36,302 to 113,513 today.
  • The number of over 70s women has also doubled in ten years, with 175,000 in employment in 2019 in comparison to 76,000 in 2009.
  • Overall, the number of over 80s who are currently in work is over 53,000 with three-quarters working part time.

Economic contribution

Rest Less founder Stewart Lewis said: “Whilst we know that the over 50s in general have been the driving force behind the UK’s impressive employment growth in recent years, our deeper analysis shows the hard work and significant economic contribution made by the rapidly growing numbers of over 70s in the workplace.

Work patterns are changing – gone are the days of working hard five days a week for four and a half decades before suddenly stopping and retiring ‘cold turkey’. We can see from our analysis that part-time work is growing in popularity amongst the over 70s both male and female.”

Fewer ‘gold-plated pensions’, increased life expectancy and a need to top up existing pensions were among the reasons why many over 70s were continuing to work beyond state pension age, Mr. Lewis speculated. Staying active and socially connected and maintaining a ‘feeling of fulfilment’ were also among the driving force to work longer.

Ageing population

The Office of National Statistics has projected that over a quarter of UK residents will be aged 65 and over within the next 50 years.

Debbie Falvey, Head of DC Pensions at Aon comments: “the balance of pensions is changing; pension benefits being accrued in defined benefits wanes and the reliance of defined contribution grows. Combined with an ageing population, this presents significant challenges in ensuring employees save enough for their old age. Employers will need to put time and energy in explaining the need to save and encouraging younger savers to maximise their pension contributions. Additionally, pension flexibilities at retirement mean that employees have great potential to retire gradually – such as phasing taking their pension pot, or bridging the financial gap until their State pension starts – and therefore making best use of the rules is difficult without proper support or advice. Employers should make sure that support is available and they have access to suitable guidance, not doing so may mean that employees who might otherwise retire will stay working longer because they feel they cannot afford retirement."

Aon’s own 2019 Benefit and Trends survey found that only 40% of respondents said their benefits currently meet the needs of all generations in their workforce. Julie Grinter, Principal Consultant at Aon states “it’s important that workplace benefits meet the needs of all generations – including employees who are working past the anticipated retirement age. Evaluating your existing benefits to ensure they’re fit-for-purpose; does your health and wellbeing program cater to an older generation? Do you offer educational support for financial planning?

Employees should also consider the wider employee value proposition – do you have flexible working options for employees looking to reduce hours and supplement their pension with a part-time income?”


Benefits Strategy Banner

For more information or to discuss any of the issues outlined in this article, please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] or call us on 0344 573 0033.


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