HR Management & Compliance

The Challenges of an Aging Workforce

Solving the worker shortage by retaining your older workers brings many benefits, but an aging workforce also raises several challenges. A June 10 webinar will tell you what you need to know.

To anyone charged with filling office seats and production workstations, the numbers are frightening.

The Baby Boom generation, just starting to reach retirement age, was 76 million strong. The “Baby Bust” generation that follows it has just 44 million members. The one after that, the “Millennials,” is somewhat larger. Yet demographers still predict a shortfall of 35 million workers in the U.S. economy by the end of this decade.

Where are your workers going to come from? Who’s going to replace the older worker?

The answer, in an increasing number of cases, is … the older worker.

Companies are beginning to realize that one of the greatest assets they have is their pool of older employees. It makes sense. These workers are the carriers of institutional knowledge about their organizations—highly trained, thoroughly experienced, and mature in judgment—with a work ethic hard to beat. So after decades of dreaming up schemes to incentivize them to retire as soon as possible, companies are now scrambling to find ways to keep them. Among those techniques:

  • More Flexibility in Working Arrangements. Employees itching for leisure time after years of work still find tempting the prospect of bringing in some steady income and keeping their benefits. The solution: a compromise in which the employees work fewer hours but you keep their skills in your organization—and at a lower payroll cost, to boot. A variation of this is allowing older employees to telecommute, even from their second homes in warmer climes.
  • Mentoring. An ideal way to use those fewer hours is to assign older workers to train and mentor their eventual replacements. This also brings an added measure of respect and recognition to these workers and provides a model younger employees can emulate.
  • Partial Pensions. A provision of the federal Pension Protection Act allows payment of partial pensions before retirement. See your pension professional about this.

But older workers also bring special issues. For this reason, ERI will be presenting a special 90-minute webinar on June 10 on the subject titled Age Discrimination in California: How To Legally Manage Your Aging Workforce. Some of the topics to be covered:

  • The legal definition of “bona fide occupational qualifications” (BFOQs) and when age-based restrictions are in fact legal in the workplace
  • Age-neutral criteria to use when selecting workers for hire, promotion, demotion, transfer, or termination due to a reduction in force or a layoff
  • When mandatory retirement policies may legally be an option
  • Decisions concerning health insurance benefits and pay plans that have caused employers legal grief in the past, and what you can learn from their mistakes
  • Common examples of comments and conduct that could be evidence of age-based stereotyping
  • Your best defenses to age discrimination claims, and how to tell if the documentation you’ve got to back up your decisions will really hold up
  • The requirements you must adhere to if you want older workers’ waivers of their ADEA and FEHA rights to legally stick

The presenter is Michelle Lee Flores, Esq., a partner in the Los Angeles office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. She focuses her practice on employment matters, including litigation and compliance matters. The presentation will be followed by live Q&A. Questions can be submitted both over the phone and via the webinar interface—anonymously, if you wish.

As usual, one low fee trains as many staff as can fit around a phone and a computer with an internet connection. If you can’t attend, click the link below to preorder a CD of the session, to be shipped to you soon after it concludes.

Older Workers = New Challenges …

… in benefits, age discrimination risk, even workers’ comp costs. Learn to deal with them in ERI’s June 10 webinar, Age Discrimination in California: How To Legally Manage Your Aging Workforce. One low fee trains your entire staff. And if you can’t attend, you can preorder the conference CD.

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