Older people shun retirement as numbers working part-time ‘hits record high’

An older man working using a machine
An older man working using a machine

The days of a “sudden stop retirement” are over after the number of older people with part-time jobs reached a record high, researchers have said.

A study of official data reveals there are now 3.6 million over 50s in part-time employment - a 12 per cent rise in just two years.

Rest Less, which offers advice to older people, said it also represented an increase of 26 per cent in 10 years, and 56 per cent over the past two decades.

The company’s analysis also found the number of people aged 66 and older working part-time had risen from 661,000 in 2021 to 781,000 in 2023, with more men doing so than women.

Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, said the levels of older people working had recovered from a “substantial setback” during the pandemic.

He said: “This trend highlights a paradigm shift in how we view work and retirement. Long gone are the days of the linear career path of one or two full-time roles - nine-to-five for five decades - followed by a sudden stop at retirement.

“Most midlifers today talk about ‘transitions’ rather than ‘stopping’, with many choosing more of a glide into retirement, than jumping off a cliff into the void - and research continues to show this phasing is beneficial for our health, social connections and overall well-being.”

Dr Emily Andrews, deputy director for work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Making part-time working more available is a great step for employers who want to realise the benefits of recruiting people in their 50s and 60s.

“Part-time jobs make the workplace more accessible to people with a caring responsibility or with certain health conditions, and makes work more appealing to people who are looking for more variety in their life in the latter part of their career.”