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By Kay Hill

Some people can’t wait to retire – but for many others, work is such an important and valued part of life that they have no desire or intention to give it up. Kay Hill looks at career options 

Staying put

Default retirement age – when your boss could put you out to pasture at 65 whether you wanted to go or not – is thankfully a thing of the past, and in most cases you are quite at liberty to carry on in your existing career past the age you could draw your pension. There are a few exceptions – employers can set a compulsory retirement age for physically strenuous jobs, and some roles in the armed forces, police and fire services have fixed retirement at aged 60.

Easing off

You might decide that while you want to keep working for your existing employer, you would rather not do as many hours, and the Government gives all employees (not just parents of young children as many assume) the right to request flexible working. This could include part time, job share, working from home or “phased retirement”. If you’ve worked for the same employer for six months you can make what’s called a statutory application which your boss must consider, and give valid business reasons in writing if they do not agree with your request. You can find more about how to apply here gov.uk/flexible-working/applying-for-flexible-working 

Change direction

If you aren’t satisfied in your career it is still possible to change direction:

  • The Now Teach programme specialises in retraining older adults who have been successful in business to teach in secondary schools. See nowteach.org.uk
  • There is no age limit for apprenticeships, whether it’s learning a new trade or going into a business. Barclays Bank, for example, offers apprenticeships to over 55s with no upper age limit
  • A number of large companies are known for their willingness to employ and retrain older workers, including B&Q, BT, Centrica, M&S and Sainsburys

Go it alone

Many people who want to carry on working later in life decide to do so for themselves – after all, when you are your own boss you can pick your jobs carefully and choose hours to suit. Remember that your income will be variable and isn’t guaranteed, and it can take a while to get a business off the ground, so make sure your finances can take the strain before you leap.

For example, if you are skilled in your field, you might want to become a consultant, where you could reap the benefits of taking those skills to a number of different companies on a short term basis. Not only will your hourly rate be higher, but you will have variety in your work.

Monetise your hobby 

If you fancy something completely different you could make money from what you enjoy. This could be through providing a service – gardening, dog walking, dressmaking (people pay a small fortune for taking up hems and replacing zips), giving talks, organising workshops and so on.

You can also make and sell goods – the Government likes to encourage small scale manufacturing so there’s even a £1,000 trading allowance you can use against tax (if you aren’t already self-employed). It could be jewellery, sweets, woodcarving, knitwear – home crafted items sell really well, although be sure to check the relevant regulations and insurance requirements.


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