More than half a million older workers are at risk of losing their jobs after the furlough scheme comes to an end today.
The Government support scheme has been a lifeline for millions of workers during the pandemic and many employers have relied on it up until its closure on September 30. Workers are now braced for a new wave of redundancies as employers must decide which jobs to keep and cull.
A third of those still on furlough at the end of July were over the age of 50, representing 543,700 older workers, according to the latest official figures. Many of those who are reliant on the state-backed income will be plunged into an unfavourable jobs market, experts have warned.
Redundancies among older workers have been higher than all other age groups throughout the crisis. This cohort has found it the most difficult to return to work when forced out.
More than half of those over 50 looking for work said they believed their age made employers less likely to hire them, according to a report from Legal & General, the pension group, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy. Other obstacles for those of a certain age included feeling overqualified for the jobs, unsuitable hours and a lack of flexibility in working hours or location.
Stuart Lewis, of Rest Less, a website for over 50s, said the pandemic had wreaked havoc on the job prospects of many people in their 50s and 60s but he feared the full impact was yet to be felt.
“We may well see hundreds of thousands of hard working, experienced older workers enter redundancy and ultimately find themselves looking for a new job in the run up to Christmas,” he said.