Main Report - Page 7 of 10
Many people in this specific age range found such terms insulting and would react by explaining that they have been a working man, or woman, all their lives and how dare a younger person who is only half their age speak to them in such a way.
The use of these words were highlighted even more when jobcentre advisors spoke about these terms in a somewhat aggressive tone and in some cases stared in what some would term a 'threatening way'.
Some in this age range stated that they found themselves a little scared under such conditions or at the very least felt intimidated. Some thought that this form of reaction from senior claimants could be due to the result of medication combined with age to a degree.
In defence of this highlighted item some jobcentre advisors did say that having to deal on a regular day to day basis with those, mainly younger job seekers, who often would not co-operate fully did make them treat everyone the same to a degree without even realising it at times.
Some jobcentre advisors did agree however that when explaining what the two terms meant, or what was required of them, it should be done in a more considerate way towards the more senior job seeker and that their past working life should be taken into account and not just automatically assume that they do not want a job or have been work shy in the past.
The general standard within various job centre's did vary somewhat, job seekers had noticed, when moving to a new area or being sent to another job centre for various reasons. While some job centre's had a very relaxed way of doing things others, (most notably larger places in larger towns and cities), had a more formal and rigid approach to dealing with job seeker customers.
Appointment times for example would be somewhat relaxed at one place but very strict at another place. It was also very noticeable that while some job centre's had no security guards monitoring their premises others had many in attendance. Clearly at such places the problem of disputes over claimant benefits, sanctions and the such like required such security measures for the protection of staff members.
MEDICAL CONCERNS - Concerns about ill health and caring responsibilities were considered by many advisers to be a key barrier facing many older claimants. It was noted that for many older claimants, their long standing health condition had often been managed effectively by their previous employer. The employer had made the necessary adjustments to suit the employee and was willing to accept certain limitations. This type of support wasn’t always available from new employers who had less time to get to know the employee or to adjust to their particular needs.
"I helped a butcher with 30 years experience find a new job, unfortunately he only lasted four weeks. He found it increasingly difficult to work in the cold store as it affected his joints and general mobility. In his previous job his colleagues were understanding and covered for him. However in the new post he had to earn his stripes and his condition put him in a difficult and uncomfortable position, he had to leave” (Comment to online Speak Up forum, JCP Adviser)
Advisers noted that in an effort to better manage health concerns many older claimants expressed a preference to work part time, or to find more flexible employment. However this preference for reduced hours could limit their job search parameters.
The preference for part time and flexible employment was also common to older claimants that had to balance their job search activities with caring for grandchildren, a spouse, or an elderly relative.