Achieving fuller working lives: Labour market and policy issues in the United Kingdom

Chris Phillipson, Sarah Vickerstaff, David Lain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the United Kingdom there has been a shift away from policies promoting early retirement towards an emphasis on extended, fuller working lives. This article examines the nature of policy change in this area and prospects for individuals remaining in work longer. Pension ages for men and women are rising rapidly and by 2028 are likely to reach 67 years. Cash benefits for those out of work before state pension age are becoming harder to access and incentives for working beyond 65 are being enhanced. In this context, restrictions have been placed on the use of mandatory retirement ages by employers. Employees have also been granted the right to request flexible employment. However, a lack of coordinated policy up until now means that important challenges exist with regard to extending working lives. Ill-health and low levels of qualifications limit the employment prospects of many older people, particularly among those in the poorest segments. Likewise, retention rates of older workers may have improved, but prospects for recruitment in older age remain poor. Policies focusing on the individual have also not yet recognised the extent to which employment in older age is influenced by the household and wider family context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2016


  • extended working lives
  • retirement
  • older workers
  • United Kingdom


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