Over 1 million workers across the UK are now aged over 65, according to a recent survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The survey, which was carried out in March, revealed almost eighteen per cent of people currently in employment are now over pensionable age, a trend that looks likely to continue.

The increased number of elderly workers employed within organisations across Britain, means many employers now need to look at ensuring that their workforce's health and well being is key to the company's benefits and personnel procedures.

Ageing staff members often face a number of barriers, including deafness, which businesses need to consider when looking to employ new staff and managing current employees.

Jim Edwards, chief executive at Signature, national charity and the UK's leading awarding body in deaf communication qualifications, says one of the challenges organisations face when employing an ageing workforce is staff losing their hearing.

He said: "We are calling for businesses to join the Get Deaf Aware campaign by offering training in deaf awareness to their staff.  This will increase their confidence because they will learn what they need to do to communicate effectively with a deaf person.

"They could even go one step further by supporting their staff to learn British Sign Language (BSL) to create a welcoming, non discriminatory environment for deaf people."

Hearing Aid (PD)The data recently released revealed that 30.19 million people aged 16 to 64 are currently in employment in the UK, of which 18.7 per cent are aged over 64.

The message behind these recently published statistics is of great significance and businesses need to act.

Many consumer-facing organisations such as banks and building societies have hearing aid loops or signage to show that they are recognising staff and customers who have hearing loss, however not all have hired staff who know how to communicate with deaf people.

Mr Edwards added:  "Changing employer's attitudes towards deafness is crucial if we are to improve services for deaf people.

"We are urging businesses to address their corporate social responsibility by becoming deaf aware and supporting their staff to undertake a Deaf Awareness Course at a local education provider, take an online course or by hiring staff with a qualification in sign language to make their services more accessible to those with hearing loss."

Helen Kay, Associate at Sintons Law Firm, said:

"By not ensuring staff are adequately trained, it could be claimed that these companies are inadvertently discriminating against deaf people by failing to comply with the 2010 Equality Act which protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society.  Under the Act, employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to provide auxiliary aids and services, such as providing a sign language interpreter to disabled employees where they would otherwise be put at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled employees due to their disability.

"Signature's Ofqual accredited Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications are offered at more than 500 educational centres across the UK. New learners are given a wealth of support materials when they begin studying, including an online tutorial video so they can continue learning at home."

Further information about Signature can be found at www.signature.org.uk

To find out more about Get Deaf Aware visit: www.getdeafaware.org.uk

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