ONE of York's biggest employers is calling on Government to enable a phased approach to retirement.

Aviva’s report, The UK’s Mid-Life Workforce: Navigating Uncharted Waters, launches today, and urges government and industry to see investment in mid-life employees as a priority.

The business wants more support for the millions of UK people who believe they may not have enough money to retire when they choose.

The median age of the UK population has risen from 34 to 41 over the past 40 years, with more than 10 million people over the age of 50 in work today – a record high.

A more flexible approach to withdrawals of the state pension benefits individuals as well as businesses, by allowing firms to capitalise on the talent and experience of employees for longer.

Aviva’s research reveals that 72 per cent of employers are experiencing challenges in recruiting workers. Supporting mid-life employees is an essential response to this shortfall.

Aviva bosses say flexible withdrawals of the state pension from the age of entitlement would remove the “all or nothing” choice, allowing people to claim some of their state pension from their state pension age. The unclaimed amount would then increase in line with traditionally deferred state pensions.

At Aviva, one third of its 17,000 UK workforce is aged 45 and over.

The business recognises that its future success relies on the skills and experience of this age group. Over-45s represent the fastest growing cohort of Aviva employees, with approximately 500 people entering this age group every year.

Aviva piloted a Mid-Life MOT scheme in 2018, inviting staff over the age of 45 to take time out to consider their wealth, work and wellbeing at this mid-point in their lives.

This face-to-face guidance service – complemented by online and one-to-one resources – increased participants’ confidence in their future plans; boosted their awareness of where to seek further support; and grew their appreciation of Aviva as an employer for all ages.

Following the pilot scheme’s 94 per cent take-up rate, Aviva introduced the Mid-Life MOT open to 5,000 employees aged 45 and over in May 2019.

It will work with the government and like-minded employers to consider how more mid-life employees in the UK could benefit from a similar intervention.

With the state pension providing the largest single source of income in retirement for the average pensioner, it is central to the plans of many.

The age at which people can access their state pension is rising. Together with a shift towards defined contribution schemes, it means almost half (49%) of UK employees aged 45+ are considering working for longer or are already working beyond the state pension age.

Lindsey Rix, CEO UK Savings and Retirement at Aviva, said: “There are several actions the government and employers could consider to better support workers in the 45+ age group. "We believe the choice between claiming 0% or 100% of the state pension no longer reflects our increasingly flexible working lives and we are calling on the government to allow individuals to make flexible withdrawals from their state pension when they reach their state pension age.

“As a leading provider, we are also committed to helping deliver better help and support for customers. We want to work with the government and regulators to make sure that suitable advice is accessible and affordable for the majority, within a properly regulated framework.

“The number of mid-life employees continues to grow to unprecedented levels. Aviva has learnt a huge amount about the challenges and opportunities facing this population from the delivery of our Mid-Life MOT programme. Our report shows there is a huge demand for a fuller working life amongst those aged 45+.

"However, we believe the state pension age acts as an artificial ‘hard line’ in the working lives of many. If we fail to prepare for an ageing workforce, the consequences will be damaging for generations to come. Not only could we see an increase in poverty in retirement; but also, a greater strain on our working population and a UK restricted from investing in its future as it struggles to navigate its present.”