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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Best Employers

Agewell – Sandwell Primary Care Trust

Winner: 2008 AARP International Innovative Employer Award (United Kingdom)

Industry: Public Hospital/Health care
Location: West Bromwich, United Kingdom
Website: agewellinsandwell.org.uk

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

As a group working to strengthen the voices of people age 50+, Agewell connects older people with other voluntary and community-sector groups. Its Midlife Future Planning program is available to all employees to consider the possible changes they will face in later life. Flexibility in work arrangements is treated as a priority, so staff can find the appropriate work/life balance. In addition, Agewell has no mandatory retirement-age policies.

Additional Policies and Practices

Lifelong Learning and Training: The Midlife Future Planning course, available to all employees in Sandwell Primary Care Trust age 50+, enables participants to consider the changes which may occur during this important stage of their lives. The course provides training on managing finances, changing jobs (whether in paid or unpaid positions), and age-related health issues.

They work with other organizations such as Adult Education Colleges and Prospects, a career information advice service, to help participants recognize that they have transferable skills. The aim is to promote the benefits both mentally and physically of people being to able to take control of their future.

Flexible Work Arrangements: A number of flexible work arrangements are available, including part-time work, flex-time, job share, annualized hours, term-time working, self-rostering, temporarily reduced hours, career breaks and sabbaticals, secondments, phased return to work, and working from home.

A flexible retirement policy is also available which aims to provide members of staff with the process for retirement along with further options to those who wish to wind down gradually by reducing their hours, or moving to a less demanding role prior to retirement. The policy also provides staff with the opportunity to return to work after retirement on a part-time or full-time basis, or for short periods.

Health Promotion and Protection
: The Primary Care Trust holds the view that health and safety are fundamental responsibilities ranking equally with any other function of the organization. To this point, the organization has a Health and Safety at Work Policy in place.

Examples of benefits include Active Sandwell, which promotes more active lifestyles for older people and people with disabilities, and Passport to Health Scheme, the aim of which is to enable local people (including staff members) aged 50 and over to enjoy a happier and healthier lifestyle which can lead to greater independence. The organization also has its own Occupational Health Service, to which employees can self refer and do not have to be referred by their managers. In addition, staff counseling is available, as well as a Physical Activity Team, which organizes health walks for staff.

Diversity Promotion
: All staff are required to undergo mandatory training for Equality and Diversity. One of the elements is to address age discrimination. The Primary Care Trust has also developed a Flexible Retirement Policy, which ensures that there is no mandatory retirement age. In addition, the Primary Care Trust is currently working on a Single Equality Scheme. The Primary Care Trust also has achieved the ‘two tick’ Disability symbol, a recognition given by the U.K. Government’s Jobcentre Plus program to employers based in the United Kingdom who have agreed to take action to meet five commitments regarding the employment, retention, training, and career development of disabled employees. Agewell actively promotes intergenerational initiatives as well.

Recruitment: In addition to the flexible work options and benefits that can attract new staff, Sandwell Primary Care Trust has ensured that all employment advertising is age-neutral.

Miscellaneous: Sandwell Primary Care Trust is committed to promoting working practices that support equal opportunities and assist the work/life balance of staff. The Primary Care Trust recognizes that from time to time, it may be necessary for a member of staff to take short periods of time away from work in order to balance the demands of domestic and work responsibilities.

An example of one of these practices is carer’s leave which can particularly apply to older workers and allows employees to take leave, under specific conditions, to care for dependants (i.e. spouse, civil partner, parent, child under age 14 or 18 if disabled, or disabled adult who relies on employee in particular emergency) in cases of emergency and urgent circumstances.

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