Posts Tagged “jobs for older workers Sydney”

Australians approaching retirement age are braced for declining living standards under a system in which the rich have done better from superannuation rules, leaving the rest with insufficient savings or languishing on inadequate age pensions, a survey has found.

Many now back “root and branch” reform to address the problem, including calculating the family home in the age pension asset test and reducing the generous tax concessions for superannuation contributions by the well-off.

As the Turnbull government prepares to unveil its first budget, a survey of over 4000 Australians aged between 50 and 70 found this critical group of voters is profoundly nervous about the future, unconvinced about financial security and more inclined to reform than previously thought.

The online survey, conducted by the YourLifeChoices website, received 4004 responses to its 21-point questionnaire, conducted in the shadow of the politically pivotal 2016 federal budget to be tabled on May 3.

The results suggest the nation’s 5.5 million Baby Boomers are not the fixed conservative bloc that is sometimes assumed, and that worsening financial circumstances mean many would back policy options previously ruled out.

Among the findings is that 60 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that a family home, if valued above $2.5 million, should not be excluded from the pension eligibility assets test.

“Perhaps the most surprising result in the survey, and contrary to expectation, is that the family home is no longer considered sacrosanct when it comes to the age pension assets test,” said publisher Kaye Fallick.

There is also support for changes to superannuation rules, suggesting super is not the political kryptonite it had been, as Boomers worry about the system’s financial sustainability and the need to protect fairness.

While many want a moratorium on changes, two-thirds of respondents believe reform of the superannuation system is required to wind back generous tax concessions, because they provide a disproportionate advantage to high income earners who are able to channel significant amounts of pre-tax income into their super accounts at a greatly discounted rate – thus costing the budget billions of dollars.

“Older Australians are not averse to change nor overly protective of all retirement assets and tax advantages, as much current ‘generational warfare’ hype might lead us to believe,” Ms Fallick said.

Sixty-seven per cent described changing the concessional rules on the accumulation phase of superannuation as something with which they either agreed or strongly agreed. Just 15 per cent classified the issue as not very important to them or not important at all.

The survey result suggests Labor is on to a winner with these voters with its policy of doubling from 15 per cent to 30 per cent the rate at which super contributions are taxed for those earning more than $250,000 a year. Currently the 30 per cent rate kicks in on contributions for those earning above $300,000.

Fairfax Media has reported that the government was considering going further than Labor in its pre-election budget by reducing the threshhold for the 30 per cent to $180,000, but that plan looks to have been dumped in favour of the $250,000 threshhold.

Underpinning the survey is a strong concern about the adequacy of the retirement system generally, with 82 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing that the “root and branch” review is necessary.

By contrast, last year’s budget decision to continue pushing out the pension eligibility age from a projected 67 in 2023 to 70 by 2030 attracted strong opposition at 68 per cent.

But while Labor was onside with older voters on more heavily taxing super contributions for the well-off, its proposal to tax super earnings at a concessional rate for earnings above $75,000 in a year was not favoured – despite its negligible impact on all but the wealthiest superannuants.

Sixty-eight per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed with taxing earnings at all.

With negative gearing set to be centre stage in the election contest, respondents were locked at 41-41 on Labor’s policy of limiting the tax concession to apply solely to newly constructed homes.

Source: The Age

David Kazachov claims he has experienced ageism as a job seeker.David Kazachov claims he has experienced ageism as a job seeker. Photo: Nick Moir

After hitting the age of 45, David Kazachov started having trouble getting work.

“It is even worse at the age of 50,” he says.

When we say baby boomers are not good with technology and Generation Y don’t have enough experience, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Associate Professor Leanne Cutcher

Despite extensive experience in the finance and IT industry, Mr Kazachov was surprised to be asked if he had a laptop after making it to the final stage of a recent job interview.

Robert De Niro showed old dogs sometimes have the best tricks in <i>The Intern</i>.Robert De Niro showed old dogs sometimes have the best tricks in The Intern.

Well, of course he did, but there seemed to be an assumption behind the question that he was too old to be savvy with computer technology.

But as it turns out, ageism in the workforce is built on a faulty premise, according to leading Australian researchers of intergenerational employment.

Associate Professor Leanne Cutcher from the University of Sydney Business School is about to publish a new study that has found that contrary to stereotypes and assumptions, the most innovative companies are the ones where the age of employees does not matter.

One health engineering company that had a young chief executive officer appointing 65-year-old workers to new roles leading projects was among companies the researchers found to be the most innovative.

The multinational company, Siemens Healthcare, recognised that people had valuable experience to offer at all stages of their career.

Michael Shaw, the company’s chief executive, said Siemens “takes the best people for the job”.

“Personally, for me it’s not important if the person is in their 20s or in their 60s, I am simply looking for the best minds with the best attitude”, Mr Shaw said.

Associate Professor Cutcher said the company had recognised that the idea that younger people lack experience and older people have too much of it “is a nonsense” and “stifles” the exchange of innovative ideas.

“Where age doesn’t matter, there is more innovation,” Associate Professor Cutcher says.

“When we say baby boomers are not good with technology and Generation Y don’t have enough experience, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Because people who have good ideas then don’t share them because they have been told they are too old.

“But you are just going to replicate the same ideas where you start labelling people as either too old or too young for a role. Where that is happening, it is stifling knowledge exchange.”

Associate Professor Cutcher said younger workers were positive about learning from older colleagues.

“We have this false idea that only young people can innovate and our research has found it has really big implications for the effectiveness of the organisations.”

“While there is robust evidence that older people can be part of a sustainable solution to job market challenges, existing and inaccurate perceptions of the Baby Boomer generation detract from the value of employing the over-50 population.”

Another new study to be released on Thursday by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency reveals that age discrimination in the workplace is rife.

It found that close to half the Baby Boomer respondents claimed they have been turned down for a job since they turned 40.

The agency’s spokesman, Simon Hovell, said the study of 1200 people across Australia found three in five people over 50 said that they faced substantial obstacles in attempts to find a job.

More than two in five respondents said they felt stuck in rut because they felt a career change, opportunities or promotions were limited.

Baby Boomers said it took longer than six months to find a new job when making a career move. One in six said it took them five years or more to find a job.

Mr Hovell said Generation Y was costing up to $2.8 billion more than Baby Boomers a year to the Australian economy.

“Baby Boomers typically take three days sick leave on average per year, which doubles for Gen Y’s at an average of six days,” Mr Hovell said.

The research also found that more than three quarters of Baby Boomers adapt well to technological innovations, and 73 percent are actively seeking training opportunities.

“The findings point to what many organisations, academics and economists have known all along – Baby Boomers are a real asset to the workplace,” said Mr Hovell.

Source: SMH.com.au

For Christine Snelling, love is enough.

For almost 40 per cent of grandparents, though, it’s not. They believe they deserve to be paid for looking after their grandchildren.

Ms Snelling – a 69-year-old retiree – spends her days chasing after an energetic six-year-old grandson. She packs lunches, does the morning school run, makes afternoon tea and then dinner.

Her daughter is a single mother, for whom paid childcare is out of reach.

Ms Snelling doesn’t mind stepping in and last December moved into a granny flat on her daughter’s Gisborne property, north of Melbourne, to make things a little easier.

“It’s what I’m here for,” she says.

For a long time, that’s how most baby-boomer grandparents have felt.

But it seems love only goes so far for the generation whose retirement dreams have been hindered by their family ties.

Two in five Australian grandparents believe they should be paid for taking care of their grandchildren, new research shows.

One in four would like to provide less care than they do.

On average, grandparents are caring for each of their grandchildren for 16 hours each week.

Most say their lives revolve around their childcare commitments: 75 per cent of grandparents live closer to their children to help take care of the grandchildren; 58 per cent forfeit recreation; 42 per cent sacrifice travel; and 30 per cent change their work arrangements.

A survey commissioned by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency shows more than 37 per cent of grandparents believe they should be paid for taking care of their grandchildren.

But it’s likely that number is even higher, ASIA spokesman Simon Hovell said.

“There is a stigma around asking for money,” Mr Hovell said. “It’s reasonable to assume that there is a percentage of grandparents who would like to be paid, but feel uncomfortable asking for it.”

Still, the vast majority of Australian grandparents – 84 per cent – say they care for their grandchildren “out of love”.

The survey shows many Australians believe grandparents providing childcare free of charge is a “normal part” of how a family should operate. The older generation in particular feels that if their parents were able to “make do” in their day without pay, so should they.

It’s just as well, because around 937,000 children in Australia are currently receiving care from their grandparents.

It’s saving the country $127.4 million each week in childcare costs.

That figure, however, is calculated at a rate of $8.50 an hour – a fraction of what the vast majority of parents are paying for childcare.

Some countries pay grandparents to look after children in the same way nannies are paid, or allow the transfer of paid parental leave entitlements to grandparents so new parents can return to work earlier. In the UK the issue was addressed years ago, with the creation of special welfare payments for grandparents who care for a child under the age of 12.

Last year, the Australian government’s National Commission of Audit recommended grandparents be eligible for a childcare payment.

The proposal was also raised by independent senators Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie as part of a crossbench wish-list in exchange for supporting the federal government’s $3.2 billion families package.

But the suggestion was rebuffed by Treasurer Scott Morrison who said: “For those who are doing the normal thing like my parents do and a lot of peoples’ parents do then, no, the government isn’t considering that.”

THE GRANDPARENT TRAP

37% Want t obe paid for caring for their Grandchildren

23% Don’t want to look after their Grandchildren as much as they do

75% Live closer to help take care of their Grandchildren

58% Say they have to sacrifice their lifestyle and recreation

42% Say they have to sacrifice their travel and holiday plans

30% Say they have to alter their work arrangements

 

Source: TheAge.com.au

The Age older workers

 

A federal government program designed to get older Australians back into work has been branded a dismal failure, with only 1700 people joining the scheme meant to benefit 32,000.

Department of Employment documents reveal just 1735 people took advantage of the Restart scheme in its first year of operation – about 5 per cent of the government’s target.

Announced with much fanfare in the 2014 budget, the program provides a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 to employers who give jobs to people aged over 50 who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Labor said the program is clearly missing the mark. Advertisement “It’s the government’s program that needs a restart as it’s proving to be a dismal failure,” opposition spokesman Brendan O’Connor​ said. “No amount of rhetorical flourish from the Prime Minister can hide the real reason the program doesn’t work – there simply are not the jobs available.”

But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government remains “firmly committed” to the program, which is part of a $1 billion investment to establish a single wage subsidy pool.

She said the program has now helped a total of 2500 mature-age workers, including those helped since July 1. “Restart is a demand-driven programme and the government budgeted for a maximum uptake of 32,000,” she said.

Nonetheless, Ms Cash has announced changes designed to improve uptake. The subsidy will now be paid over 12 months rather than 24 and other measures have been taken to reduce complexity and red tape.

Older workers face significant barriers to entering the workforce. On average, they spend 61 weeks on the unemployment queue, compared to 37 weeks for all other people.

“That is why Restart was developed, to give an added incentive to employers to hire a mature-age worker,” Ms Cash said. Both major parties have long struggled to encourage employers to hire mature-age Australians. Indeed, just 230 employers took advantage of a $1000 annual subsidy under the two-year life of the Rudd/Gillard government’s Experience+Jobs Bonus scheme, which was also designed to get over 50s into work. It was meant to benefit up to 10,000 employers.

Source: The Age/Adam Gartrell

While recently having a coffee with a friend, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation at the table next to ours. Two women in their 60s were enthusiastically discussing their jobs. Their tête-à-tête was inspiring.

Image: iStock

Inspiring woman number one was talking about how much she loves her job and how her employer has trained her to use all the technology available to make her job easier. She’s a team leader with a large cleaning company. She works part-time and job-shares with another person. She enjoys the fact that her employer is happy to be flexible and to provide ongoing training, as she’s eager to learn. The conversation turned to interviewing staff, and how often she hears older women talk about how difficult they find it to secure a job. This is particularly true, she recounted, if they’ve been out of the workforce for a while, despite the obvious life experience and work skills they have. “How lucky we are to have jobs at our age,” she said.

Inspiring woman number two agreed. She shared that she’s enjoying her job despite having moved from part-time to full-time work at the request of the employer. She says she’s happy to help her employer during a busy period and hopes eventually to move back to part-time work; she’d gladly train someone else to help make that happen.

What an uplifting conversation!

Recent research shows that these two friends are among a growing segment of Australian women. The number of older Australians in the workforce is rising, with an increased number of Aussie women working past the age of 55, according to a research report from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research entitled Two Decades of Change: The Australian Labour Market 1993-2013.

The report shows a sharp rise in the number of women aged 60 to 64 still in the labour force, from 15.2 per cent in 1993 to 45.1 per cent in 2013. The number of women aged 55 to 59 working in 2013 hit 65.3 per cent, up from 36.8 per cent in 1993.

Likewise, the number of men aged 65 or older working more than doubled over the two decades, reaching 16.9 per cent in 2013, and the number of those aged 60 to 64 increased from 48.3 per cent in 1993 to 62.5 per cent in 2013.

The good news is, these figures are increasing; the bad news is, we still have a long way to go to wipe out age discrimination.

Source: NRMA

I am 65, and for the past four years, HuffPost’s office in Los Angeles has been my work home. I am the oldest breathing soul in the building, something that I’ve grown accustomed to. I happen to like my officemates a great deal — and believe that that affection is reciprocated. But without a doubt, being the oldest employee comes with some distinctions — and life lessons. Here are a few:

1. You don’t have to be in the same life stage in order to be friends with someone.
Right now, we are celebrating two recent engagements in my office. Marriage proposal stories are such fun to hear, especially if you are a boomer who came of marriage age at a time when getting down on one knee or asking the woman’s parents for permission would likely have revoked your commune membership. Since my own husband asked me centuries ago to marry him with something like “Wanna?” I appreciate the thoughtful care that went into Ashley and Meredith’s proposals.

I am also genuinely interested in hearing the details of the weddings-in-the-works. I find myself cautioning them to not lose sight of the marriage in planning for the wedding.

In my current life stage, I’m preparing for our oldest child to leave for college in a year. My officemates have a wealth of information about the college application process and the college experience itself since it wasn’t that long ago for many of them. When my daughter applies next year, she will have benefited from the collective wisdom of these fairly recent graduates.

Our milestone events may not be the same, but the enthusiasm we have for one another’s important occasions is real. They came to my son’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony and I almost made it to Anna’s first-house party.

2. I don’t have to go to karaoke night to be part of the group.
Every office has a culture. Ours has a hipster vibe, where fun is encouraged. We work hard and we play hard. We have game nights and cocktail-tasting events. We have drink carts on Thursdays, share free bagels on Fridays and have corporate days where we volunteer. I pick and choose my spots but am always included by all. I like that. It’s the way it should be — even if I don’t show up most of the time.

When you think about it, we’ve always compartmentalized our friends. I have Mom friends and friends from my single days. I have friends from within the world of journalism and friends who are neighbors. I also have movie friends and hiking friends and trying-new-restaurant friends. I think it’s fine for boomers to have millennial friends.

3. If I’m their mentor, they are my educators.
I’m maternal by nature, which means I like to share the experience of my years — mostly about life, but sometimes about work too. And of course old dogs can be taught new tricks. Which makes us perfect. I like to think that I push the bar up journalistically here in the office. With my colleagues’ help I’ve become one of those 65-year-olds who knows more about the Internet than all her same-age friends.

4. We share indignation.
Except for my insistence that real music died about 10 years after Woodstock, our views are largely aligned. One thing I love is their support whenever I go off on age discrimination. Think about it: Many millennials can’t get their foot in the corporate door and many boomers like me have no plans to go anywhere. That alone could trigger animosities among lessers.

But in our case, they share my indignation over the small stuff that makes me explode. For example, companies that recruit for “digital natives.” I love that expression — digital natives — except when I see it in a job posting. Digital native means someone who was born with a cellphone in his or her hand. It’s been showing up lately in job postings when the company wants to hire someone young and has been cautioned against by H&R offices worried about age discrimination suits. I’m not sure how long the term “digital native” will be around, but I do know that my young friends agree with me that older people have a place in the workforce — and that we in fact enrich the office.

5. I am a walking history book, and they are the future chapters.
As digital natives — well, they are — they often encourage me to talk about the good old days of print journalism. They were shocked when I told them how 35 years ago, a county judge in New Jersey booted me out of the courtroom where I was reporting on a trial because I was wearing a pant suit. Ladies, he told me, wore skirts to his court and to do otherwise was showing disrespect. The next day, every female reporter I knew came to court with me — all of us wearing pant suits.

My young colleagues were equally stunned when I explained how I was told that I couldn’t be promoted because to do so would take a paycheck out of the hands of a “family breadwinner,” and how more than once I was asked why I didn’t just get married and have kids.

From my colleagues, I have learned how the new dress-for-success look is often my jeans and boots. They are my go-to resource for all things current. I now know where to shop, eat, drink and vacation. Heck, I even got Netflix to be able to join in the conversation.

6. Cash v. Card.
This continues to be our big divide. What is it with millennials and their aversion to cash? They all use plastic all the time for everything, including buying a soda off the food truck. I carry cash. It comes in handy for handing over to a mugger, which is precisely why I suspect they don’t carry any.

7. Technology made our lives easier.
At the risk of sounding trite, there really is an app for everything. And I thank my young colleagues for sorting through the clutter and letting me know which ones will really make my life easier. I knew about Uber, but not UberEats — which delivers a fresh lunch to my office in under five minutes. (H/T Joe Satran, HuffPost Taste writer.) From Healthy Living writer Anna Almendrala I learned about Withings, an interactive app that tracks your exercise, food, steps, weight, etc. She also was the first one to show me MyFitnessPal. And I’m a total fan of Venmo, a peer-to-peer money transfer system.

Probably more to the heart of things, they taught me that technology isn’t the big scary beast that so many of my own-age peers feel the need to dismiss disparagingly

Source: Huffingtonpost.com

Date:  May 4, 2015

Philip Taylor, Michael O’Neill and Alison Monroe

Much is known about the labour market situation of older workers but no attempts have been made to collate this knowledge in a way that aids government policy development.

Particularly useful would be consideration of how to engender positive attitude change among employers and older people themselves.

Particularly useful would be consideration of how to engender positive attitude change among employers and older people themselves.

Any policy interest in mature-age workers is to be welcomed. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s recent announcement of its inquiry Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability presents a good opportunity to push the issue further up the agenda. But is this the right inquiry, and what is preventing concerted government action now?

Labour-market age barriers are in sharp focus internationally as governments, concerned with the economic effects of ageing populations, have acted to encourage longer working lives.

In the coming decades Australia’s workforce will experience a significant ageing and, simultaneously, shrinking, bringing to the fore the issue of the employment of older workers. In combination with declining birth rates, the retirement of a large cohort of baby boomers is expected to reduce the supply of skilled workers, contribute to a lowering of workforce participation rates, and raise dependency ratios.

Addressing workforce ageing is rightly viewed as critical to the nation’s economic performance, with the Treasury’s Intergenerational Reports referring to the need to improve mature-age labour-force participation rates.

Strategy development concerning the best use of older workers by the Australian economy is long overdue. Ageism faced by mature workers is certainly an important barrier to their employment, as evidenced by research undertaken by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, but an inquiry centred on this risks portraying older people as victims, taking away any individual responsibility.

Perversely, another risk with the inquiry’s singular focus on ageism and age discrimination is that this may add to the stigma older people may face, confirming public perceptions of them as disadvantaged, and potentially further entrenching ageist attitudes. Also notable is that apparently the inquiry has no interest in ageism and its effects on the young, despite state and federal legislation proscribing age discrimination against people of any age.

A reductionist view of older workers’ labour-market problems as being solely a consequence of ageism also ignores key facets of what is a complex issue. A broader inquiry would be more helpful. This could usefully consider such issues as the employability of older workers and the incentives and disincentives to working provided by the social welfare and pension systems.

Importantly, a substantial amount is already known about the position of older workers in the labour markets of developed nations, including the nature and effects of age discrimination. There is a vast international policy and academic literature stretching back several decades, with major reviews and inquiries undertaken by national governments and bodies such as the European Commission and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

With the field already well ploughed, what then could a new inquiry consider? Much is known about the labour market situation of older workers but there have been no attempts to draw this knowledge together in a way that can effectively inform policy efforts in Australia. Notably, there has been a surge in public policy in the area of ageing and work internationally over more than a decade. Nations such as Finland, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Britain have been particularly active. The challenges these countries are facing are not so different that their actions would not provide potentially useful templates for Australia, where policy work to date has been rather more modest. So the inquiry could usefully take a considered look at what has worked elsewhere.

Particularly useful would be consideration of how to engender positive attitude change among employers and older people themselves. In this regard, internationally several projects targeting industry attitudes to older workers have been undertaken, for example, Age Platform Europe, Combating Age Barriers in Employment, and Employment Initiatives for an Ageing Workforce, funded by the European Union, the Finnish National Programme on Ageing Workers, Age Positive, the Employers’ Forum on Age and the Third Age Employment Network in Britain, and the AARP Best Employers International Award in the US.

Such analysis could help increase the impact of the Corporate Champions program, implemented by Labor and retained by the Coalition, which has been one of the more successful ways of creating action by Australian employers concerning workforce ageing. Above all, what is required is a strategic framework containing evidence-based proposals for raising the labour-force participation of older Australians and government will to act. It is to be hoped that the present inquiry will form part of such a holistic approach.

Philip Taylor is director of the Australian Retirement Research Institute, Federation University Australia. Michael O’Neill is chief executive office of National Seniors Australia. Alison Monroe is chief executive officer of Sageco management consultants.

Source: The Age

Political Reporter
Canberra
Employees are increasingly expecting to be laid off.

Employees are increasingly expecting to be laid off.

The number of Australians ­expecting to be sacked in the next 12 months has hit a 10-year high as uncertainty about economic growth permeates the workforce.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data analysed by The Weekend Australian shows that a record 1.2 million Australians do not expect to be working with their current employer in a year’s time, an increase of almost 300,000 people in a decade.

Of those expecting to leave their job, 20 per cent say they fear being made redundant.

The job uncertainty revealed in the new figures — the highest level since 2004 — comes after the unemployment rate dropped to a three-month low of 6.1 per cent last month, and while the economy added almost 38,000 new jobs. The tentative signs of optimism come as the Reserve Bank warns of below-trend economic growth, weak business and consumer spending, and a continuing decline in the country’s terms of trade.

Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre director John Spoehr said the figures exposed a “classic patchwork economy”, with jobs growth strong in some sectors while ­others were in decline.

The demise of automotive manufacturing — which is linked to as many as 200,000 jobs — a slowing resources sector and ­public-service job cuts were fuelling the pessimism, Professor Spoehr said. “There is a high level of uncertainty prevailing at the ­moment,’’ he said.

“It is not clear where the next round of major projects will come from and there is a reluctance to compensate for this using public-sector investment. Many people are likely to be anticipating more difficult times ahead.”

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of employment Jenny Lambert said job insecurity highlighted the ­impact of business confidence on workers.

“Employees are caught up in that uncertainty, which is ­reflected in this quite significant increase,” she said.

She, too, cited the supply chains for manufacturing and mining, along with public-service jobs, as the sectors feeling most vulnerable. Since 2004, the number of people employed in manufacturing in Australia has fallen from 1.04 million to 911,000, and is forecast to drop to 893,000 by ­November 2018.

In mining, ­employment almost tripled from 100,000 in 2004 to 272,000 in 2013, before dropping to 229,000 last year.

While the number of people employed in public adminis­tration has grown from 598,000 in 2004 to 726,000 in November last year, about 30,000 jobs were shed in 2013-14.

Ms Lambert said the government needed to respond to the uncertainty being felt across the economy.

“They have got to again build business and economic confidence, they have got to try and paint a stronger picture about the fact that there is scope for growth in the economy,” she said.

Bill Mitchell, director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity, said the figures reflected a slowdown under way since 2012.

 

Source: TheAustralian

Australia’s Human Rights Commission will lead an inquiry into age discrimination in the workforce as the Federal Government finds employment rates for older Australians ‘disturbingly low’.

The Australian government has commissioned a national inquiry into workplace age discrimination.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are around 5.5 million Australians aged 55 years and over, making up one quarter of the population. But seniors represent just 13 per cent of the workforce.

The Australian Human Rights Commission will lead the inquiry.

‘Employment rates for older Australians and people with a disability remain at disturbingly low levels and we know that is largely as a result of discrimination,’ Attorney-General George Brandis said as the launch in Sydney.

Age and Disability Commissioner, Susan Ryan, said there are many false perceptions about mature workers that are influencing companies hiring decisions.

‘They won’t adapt to change, they won’t learn new things, they won’t get on with the dynamic younger employees.. now, none of that is supported by evidence, but it is still believed by too many employers’ said Ms Ryan.

The Commissioner said senior workers could add billions to Australia’s economy, if there was a slight increase in the number of aged workers.

‘If we could increase the participation of Australians over 55 in the workforce by just five per cent, we would get a $48 billion a year annual impact.’ Ms Ryan said.

According to the Human Rights Commission, unemployement and under-employment of older Australians costs over $10 billion to the economy each year.

‘The Finishing Touch’, a Melbourne based moving and packing company, prides itself on being an age friendly employer and said it’s a win-win situation for companies.

‘We have over a dozen staff working for us currently who are aged 70 years plus. It’s a win-win situation you end up with a great employee whos able to make a really good contribution.’ said Steve Hitchings, the owner of The Finishing Touch.

The moving and packing company employs more than 250 workers – their average age is 56 years old.

Employee, Jan French is 59 years old and said she enjoys her work.

‘I like to keep busy and with this job there’s a lot of flexibility, clock in and out when we want, go for a holiday we can do other things.’ said Ms French.

The inquiry will consult with businesses and members of the community across Australia and could recommend changes to Commonwealth laws.

The inquiry will report to the Federal Government by July 2016.

 

Source:  SBS News 16 April 2015