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Age at work stories at Christmas: from Santa’s helper to retirement

by on December 19, 2016

Well, after scouring our alerts, I have found a couple of seasonal age at work stories.

The TUC devotes a section of its website to what it calls ‘Christmas Issues’; naturally these are work-related and happily for us, some of them are also age-related. The section takes the form of a series of ‘questions’ that might be posed about employment rights in the context of the festive season, for example:

“I’m 16 and have got a Saturday job as a Santa’s helper in my local supermarket. They only pay me £4 an hour, but my mate who’s 18 gets £5.55. Is that right?” The answer highlights the continuing age differential in the national minimum wage (NMW) payable to workers: the NMW for 16- and 17-year-olds is indeed only £4.00 per hour; for workers aged 18 to 20 it’s currently £5.55 per hour; and for workers aged 21 to 24 it’s £6.95.

At the other end of the spectrum, for those over 50 who are looking (but so far unsucessfully) for work, this Australian not-for-proft association, W.O.W! – Willing Older Workers, offers emotional and practical support to mature-aged unemployed workers and their families. At Christmas, they also provide food parcels and gifts.  What is very striking about the message that the association puts over on its website, is how those they help have one thing in common, namely that they all want to have paid employment. There seems to be a need to position them in stark contrast to those who might want to retire and/or do voluntary work.

And talking of retirement, I found this list on e-bay for presents for newly retired Dads. The gift ideas are described as supporting ‘leisurely, time-consuming activities‘. I couldn’t find an equivalent list for Mums… so there may still be some gendering around the notion of retirement. Perhaps women are seen by some as already fully occupied with household and caring duties so not needing any more ‘time-consuming activities‘??

And that’s it for 2016. We’ll be back in the week beginning 16th January 2017. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a very happy new year.

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