On 08 March the European social partners, BusinessEurope, UEAPME, CEEP (employers), and the ETUC (unions) presented their voluntary autonomous agreement that proposes tools and measures for employers, workers, and representative bodies to effectively manage active ageing.

This voluntary, non-binding agreement especially seeks to present the issues and prescribe some approaches to the national social partners.

Definition. Active ageing is a means of optimizing opportunities for workers of all ages to work under working conditions that are high quality, productive, and healthy, up until workers reach their legal retirement age, and that this is based on mutual consent and a common desire by both employers and employees. The first action step for the European social partners lies in conducting periodic strategic demographic assessments of the labor force that include age pyramid forecasts and gender aspects. The assessments should address skills, qualifications and experience, working conditions, health and safety considerations, especially for arduous occupations, and both digitalization and innovation linked developments.

Based on this the social partners will be equipped to decide on how to intervene.

Health and safety. The social partners at the appropriate levels are to promote and facilitate identification of tasks which are particularly physically and/or mentally demanding so as to identify practicable adjustments to the working environment to prevent or reduce identified excessive physical or mental demands on workers and thereby allow them to be safe and healthy while at work until the legal retirement age. Such measures could take the form of readjustments to work processes, changing job categories career mobility, improving management skills on the issue, etc.

Managing skills. The social partners recommend that management and employee representatives are made aware of the issues in terms of age-related skills needs, training opportunities for workers of all ages, as well as identifying formal and informal competences that workers have acquired in the course of their working life. The agreement also proposes measures to adapt work organization (organizing working time), in line with an inter-generational approach.

Implementation. The agreement intends for the national social partners to compile an annual follow up report on companies progress with the first full report being completed for adoption by the social partners after year three of the agreement’s implementation. At this time the signatories commit to undertaking steps for the agreement to be implemented in countries that have not carried out any approaches to manage active ageing.