MATURE age workers are being exploited by unscrupulous Gold Coast business owners in record numbers.
According to leading legal figures the number of mature age workers seeking advice over illegal and demeaning treatment at the hands of employers has reached record numbers.
Litigation director with Gold Coast firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, Bruce Simmonds, said he had at least 20 mature age workers suing their former employers for unfair dismissal.
He said age discrimination in the workforce was as rampant and cruel as ever and he believed the year ahead held no relief for mature age workers who felt they were treated like slaves.
“They are all late 50s or in their 60s, made redundant from previous jobs and needing to stay in the workforce,” he said. “There are agencies that score thousands of dollars in government incentives to place these people in new jobs but too often the new jobs are a nightmare for the worker.”
Mr Simmonds said there were ostensibly respectable Gold Coast companies hiring older workers but privately paying bare minimum wages and imposing unfair working conditions.
“If the worker complains, they are sacked or threatened with the sack, knowing it can be hard for older workers to find a new job,” he said.
“Intimidation is used to silence them. Older workers are the people with the least rights in the workforce and generally the unions can’t or won’t do anything to help them.
“Part of the problem is the mindset of younger bosses who can’t relate to older workers or have no respect for them.”
Mr Simmonds said distressed clients stated they were often treated with disrespect by younger bosses, treated like idiots or given menial tasks either to persuade them to resign or because the boss did not trust them with more responsibility.
“It’s tragic because mature age workers can be a golden asset for an employer. They have a long-term work ethic, tremendous workplace experience and a professional attitude to their job. They could teach their bosses a thing or two about personnel management.”
Mr Simmonds expects the problem to get worse as an ageing population is forced to work longer before pension age.
Manny Palma, of the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre, said his organisation was seeing the same issue.
“We identified it to be such an issue we put our hands up for extra funding for a specialist employment position,” he said.
“It is a burgeoning area and, while we missed out on funding for a fulltime position, we still have one lawyer who basically does 80 per cent employment law.”
Mr Palma said the centre had easily a 30-40 per cent increase in the numbers of mature age workers seeking advice: “We have a lot of mature age workers being turfed out of jobs with their positions ostensibly being made redundant but then the position is readvertised with a different title but the same duties.”
Source: Gold Coast Sun