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How do you keep older people working long and happily?

16 May 2023 Employers
Julie Rousseau

The ageing of Belgium’s population is a social challenge that companies are also facing. What are the benefits of hiring older workers? How do you keep your older workers healthy and happy at work? And what if you do have to say goodbye?

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1. Recruiting older people

Hiring older workers is a worthwhile avenue if you’re seeking out new talent. Not only do they have tons of experience and a wealth of knowledge, they’re also loyal to their employer and less likely to change jobs.

Unlimited additional earnings after retirement

Employees don’t have to stop working once they reach retirement age. They can decide to simply continue working or take up a new job, and are then allowed to accrue their pension with their income indefinitely.


If your company belongs to the targeted joint committees – mainly within the hospitality, retail, sports, healthcare or arts sectors – the flexi-job statute gives you the opportunity to hire temporary workers on an advantageous basis.

This system has been extended to pensioners since 2018. They can thus enjoy an advantageous extra income – without further employment conditions. 

Target reductions

Hiring older workers means you benefit from a target group reduction (a discount on the social security contributions employers have to pay for their employees). Note that different rules apply in Flanders than in Brussels.

2. Long(er) and happy(er) at work

Do you employ older workers? Then you want to keep them working long, happy and healthy. You can boost well-being and motivation by, among other things, supporting a good work-life balance and providing sufficient challenge at work. We’ll give you some ideas on how to achieve that below. 

End-of-career job

If your older employee is at least 55 years old with a career of at least 25 years as a salaried employee, they can reduce their performance until retirement. There is even a benefit for that from the age of 60. In certain situations, workers aged 50 and above may also be eligible for end-of-career jobs.

Of course, your employees can also voluntarily work part-time, although in that case they may lose some of their social rights.

Non-statutory leave

Granting non-statutory leave, on top of the 20 days of statutory holidays, is a good reward and motivator for performance and it gives (older) employees some extra time to unwind.

You can fully allocate non-statutorily according to your own rules and choices:

  • As a collective or individual benefit;
  • Linked to certain conditions such as age, seniority, etc.;
  • Paid or unpaid.

Note that when unpaid leave is taken, employees do not accrue any rights. Traditional non-statutory leave is paid for by the employer, but you can also let employees bear the cost of this themselves (money for time) through individual salary exchanges or a cafeteria plan.

Tailor-made benefits

It pays to match your pay packages to the needs of older workers: additional pension plan, extra holidays, extra insurance, specific training, bonus pension plan, etc.

These wage elements can also be incorporated into a cafeteria plan. By offering your employees choices, you promote motivation

You can also grant (tax-favourable) seniority bonuses to loyal older employees.

Flexible working hours

Another option is to get behind flexible working hours, potentially only for older workers. This might involve the four-day working week, (wider) sliding working hours, self-scheduling, ADV days if the sector allows, etc.

And also, through occasional or structural teleworking, you increase flexibility and encourage your employees’ work-life balance.

Finally, career savings allow your employees to accumulate a credit of hours during their career, to be taken at a later date with pay. That way, employees can create their own ‘end-of-career job’ or stop working some time before retirement. However, the conditions are strict.

Commitment to training

Investing in the talent development of your employees is always a good plan, especially with your older employees. Let them attend training courses that increase the chances of internal mobility in the company. Training leave, time credit for training, etc. may be used for this purpose.

Which is also a concern in a lot of companies: the transfer of knowledge. Why not let your more experienced employees provide in-house training to younger colleagues themselves? The knowledge and experience they have accumulated are invaluable.

Internal movements

Older workers don’t need to stay stuck in their jobs. Retraining, rotating between jobs, having two employees jointly do light and heavy jobs by allocating half each... These are all options that can help keep your employees at work for a long(er) and happy(er) time and use them to their strengths.

Posting, association or voluntary work

You can suggest or encourage (older) employees to gain experience at other companies or organisations. This might be volunteer or association work, or employee sharing with other employers.

Commitment to welfare

If you put the above options into action, you’re already addressing your employee’s well-being to a large extent. However, you can also take other steps, such as preventive medical examinations, extra efforts on ergonomics, or a reintegration programme for long-term sick employees.

3. Saying goodbye

So what if the time for saying goodbye has arrived? Everyone appreciates it when goodbyes are said properly, according to research.

Early retirement / SWT and shortened notice

If dismissal did occur, older workers (if they meet the conditions) may be entitled to additional SWT allowances at the employer’s expense.

Also be aware that the notice period is capped at 26 weeks for employees reaching the statutory retirement age.

Pension contribution

You can provide retiring employees with a great parting gift.

Moreover, provided its amount does not exceed € 40.00 per year of service and is minimum € 120 maximum € 1,000, such a pension contribution is free of NSSO and taxes.

Exit interview

Has your collaboration come to an end? Take your time for an exit interview, making sure to prepare this properly. This is the perfect opportunity to express your appreciation and gain feedback about your organisation.

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Written by Julie Rousseau

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