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Trade Union News from Finland

Individual flexibility in working conditions act as an incentive
to continue working longer

 
Helsinki (06.02.2012 - Heikki Jokinen) The discussion on the proper retirement age is ongoing in Finland, as it is also in many other European countries. Employer organisations are in favour of raising the minimum retirement age, which is now 63.

A new study, published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, offers some useful suggestions on how to encourage employees to remain longer in working life. The study suggests that employers should take the individual wishes and situation of wage and salary earners better into account. Well-being at work and managerial skills should be improved.

According to the study the individual flexibility of working time has clearly a positive connection with the desire to continue at work after the age of 63. Among senior salaried employees also flexibility concerning the place of work - such as work trips and tele-working – noticeably increased the desire to continue working. For workers flexibility concerning the place of work was not so important.

In 2009, a slight majority of workers (53 per cent) replied that they could consider continuing to work after the retirement age. Among salaried employees the figure was 64 per cent and among senior salaried employees 73 per cent. These figures were from 5 to 10 percentage points higher than those in the 2006 survey.

Women more often than men consider the possibility of continuing to work longer, especially women in the social and health sectors. The group that was least keen to work longer were men in the transport sector. The physically strenuous nature of this work evidently diminishes the wish to continue in working life.

Differences with regard to factors that would make employees consider a longer working life were clear between the different groups of wage and salary earners. In 2009, a third of senior salaried employees replied that meaningful, interesting and challenging work would make them to continue. The related figure for workers was only 8 per cent. A quarter of workers named their own health as the most important factor affecting the desire to continue.

The study is based on interviews made in 2006 and 2009 of 2 103 wage and salary earners aged 45 - 63.