Due to recent fluctuations in the economy, increasing numbers of retired workers have reentered the U.S. employment market. As such, small business owners now have access to a range of highly skilled and experienced workers. However, there are a few things employers should be aware of before hiring any retirees.
The benefits of hiring a retired employee
Although employers have to consider additional legal realities when hiring older workers, that does not mean you shouldn’t make room for them in your organization. For one thing, retirees will likely have a great deal of expertise in your field. Calling upon their knowledge when considering an expansion or changing the way your business operates could prove to be very useful. It’s also possible that an older employee might have an interest in only working three to four days a week, a scheduling preference that would allow you to quantify them as a part-time employee. Consequently, you’ll be able to save money as you won’t be required to give them as robust a benefits package as your full-timers. You can also consider hiring retired workers on a contingent or freelance basis, another option that will save you a few bucks in the benefits department.
Legal realities surrounding the hiring of retired workers
First of all, employers should be aware of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. It prohibits the discrimination of workers over the age of 40, which includes hiring, compensation, promotion and firing. This means that you cannot use any language that could be considered discriminatory in materials used to advertise a position or during your candidate interviews. Doing so can leave your organization open to potentially devastating civil liability, not to mention the financial hit your business would take as a result of the negative publicity surrounding an age discrimination lawsuit.
Fostering a harassment free work environment
If your staff comes to include retirees, it’s important that you keep in mind that you cannot use their advanced age as a reason to deny them medical benefits, promotions or raises. As an employer, you will be responsible for making sure that the work environment does not become hostile toward your older employees. This means making sure all of your employees are aware of federal regulations regarding age-based harassment. And, if your company experiences a downturn and needs to begin making layoffs, you are legally prohibited from firing or laying off an employee because of their advanced age.
This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse