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Denmark – Older workers discriminated against

26 November 2013

Age discrimination remains an issue in the Danish labour market. According to a poll carried out by YouGov for Ældre Sagen, a senior citizens’ lobby group, more than a quarter of people over 60 who retire do so unwillingly, reports theCopenhagen Post

Some of those surveyed said that they felt opportunities for older workers were so limited that the employees felt compelled to simply withdraw from the labour market. Only one third said they stopped working due to health reasons.

On an annual basis this amounts to 6,000 people who would like to remain working but cannot. In addition, while only 12% of 65 to 70-year-olds are working, 26% say they are interested in finding a job but had stopped looking.

Mona Larsen, the head of SFI, a social welfare research institute, told Danish newspaper Berlingske: “The figures could indicate that we still think that people should retire at 65, regardless of whether they can keep working or not.”

Bjarne Hastrup, the head of the senior citizens' lobby, said that losing older workers means also missing out on a huge and valuable resource. “You lose a stable workforce with experience and great interpersonal skills. We are looking at retirement reform that says that in 2050, workers will first receive a pension when they are 72 years old and that goes up to 77 by 2065. That means that everyone, including employers, needs to prepare for more older people in the workplace,” he told Berlingske.

Although the number of workers between 60 and 65 has increased since 2000, problems persist for those over 65.

Mr Hastrup said: “Discrimination occurs particularly for those over 65. They are not going to get interviews if they lose their jobs.”

He said that science shows today’s 70-year-old has the same physique and psyche that a 60-year-old had 20 years ago, so age limits set up more than 50 years ago are irrelevant. He added that employees as young as 50 need to use regular performance reviews with their employers as a chance to start discussions about age.

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