Posts Tagged “mature age employment”

Skills Checkpoint program can help you to access up to $2,200 to fund suitable education and training options. If you are looking for support and guidance on transitioning into a new role or new career, Skills Checkpoint program can help!

The program is individually tailored to your needs through our free initial career planning session. If you are eligible, you can access up to $2,200 (GST inclusive) to fund suitable education and training options, as outlined in your career plan, to reach your employment goals.

Eligibility Criteria

*To participate you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident aged 45 to 70 years old, who is either:

*employed and at risk of unemployment (e.g. those in industries undergoing structural adjustment); or

*unemployed for no more than three consecutive months and not registered for assistance through a government employment services program, (e.g. jobactive).

The Skills Checkpoint program is a joint initiative between the Department of Education and Training, and the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

Skills Checkpoint is available through VERTO in NSW, VIC and the ACT.

To find out more, register your interest today:

Verto Skills Checkpoint

Older adults offer leadership and experience, yet are often overlooked in the hiring process with HR instead focusing on millennials. That’s according to Ben Eatwell, CMO at Weploy.

Eatwell added that this is often out of a desire to “nurture the next generation of talent”, but also the satisfaction out of having a major impact on these younger minds.

“That’s quite a long way from retirement! We know diversity positively impacts innovation, culture and profits, but often age diversity has less focus.”

Eatwell said there are many advantages to employing older adults, particularly in positions where experience and leadership are needed. However, this doesn’t seem to be translating into more opportunities for older Australians.

“I think this has to do with trying to fit workers into traditional organisational structures – by exploring more agile, networked and outcome-oriented structures it can not only improve diversity but also productivity.”

Eatwell offers a few tips for HR professionals who want to boost the number of older Australians amongst their staff.

The starting point should always be a “thorough assessment of the recruitment process” to identify and mitigate where age discrimination could arise.

“One of the key traits we assess is learning agility – in a nutshell, the ability to pick new ideas up quickly,” he said.

“Research suggests that although you can make small improvements to your learning agility, it is more or less fixed and is not dependent on age.”

Consequently, choosing candidates based on learning agility can help add some objectivity to the hiring process.

From there it’s about developing a culture of lifelong learning. Mature employees have a huge amount of experience to share which can be “leveraged to increase overall productivity and morale”.

“Also I’ve seen reverse mentoring work very well, reducing knowledge gaps with both younger and more mature workers, as well as improving organisational culture.”

So what is lost by having nobody senior around?

“Often it’s the times of crisis when calm is needed, or when team morale is affected by a failed project, that age diverse workforces show critical value,” said Eatwell.

“We do a lot of ‘learning by doing’ and that includes what to do when things do not go according to plan.”

Eatwell added that leadership is a quality that is not tied to age, but the “reassurance of someone who has seen a crisis and worked through it to tell the tale” can be invaluable in making sure the right work gets done in these high-pressure moments.

Sometimes, the only senior person on a project is the boss, and employees are reluctant to confess an error that can lead to disaster if unaddressed, he added.

“Having a senior member of the workforce who can act as that neutral-confidant, and know what to do with the information, has considerable value.”

Employees from diverse ages have different experiences, perceptions and approaches when it comes to things like problem-solving, decision making and task handling, he said.

“They can also use various strategies – starting from the way they think, plan and execute tasks, which can influence operations in a more subtle, but still valuable way.”

Source:hcamag.com

People are living longer, and organizations are shifting their attitudes toward older workers as a result. Organizations that can turn advancing worker age into an asset could gain a competitive advantage.

Longer lives, older workforces

Rising life expectancies and an aging global workforce present organizations with unprecedented challenges and untapped opportunities. Companies that plan, design, and experiment with workforce strategies, workplace policies, and management approaches for longer working lives can reap a longevity dividend. Those that lag behind face potential liability concerns and skill gaps. Creating ways for people to have meaningful, productive multi-stage and multidimensional careers is a major opportunity to engage workers across generations.

 

 

One of modern science’s greatest achievements is longevity: the unprecedented length of human lives today. Average global life expectancy has rocketed from 53 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2015—and it is still climbing,1 with life expectancy projected to grow by 1.5 years per decade.2 Longevity, combined with falling birth rates, is dramatically increasing the share of older people in populations worldwide.3 Looking ahead, the number of retirees per worker globally is expected to decline from 8:1 today to 4:1 in 2050.4

These demographic facts have profound implications for individuals, organizations, and society. In this era of longevity, an individual’s career can last far longer, spanning generations of technologies and businesses. Companies can employ people into their 60s, 70s, and beyond as the pool of traditional “working-age” (20- to 54-year-old) adults shrinks. For their part, many individuals find the need—financially and/or emotionally—to stay in the workforce past “traditional” retirement age.

In our 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 29 percent of the respondents rated longevity as a very important issue, and another 40 percent rated it as important. Respondents in Japan in particular, whose population is rapidly aging, were especially concerned about the issue, with 41 percent saying that it is very important.

The looming impacts of global aging

Population aging poses a workforce dilemma for both economies and organizations. Thirteen countries are expected to have “super-aged” populations—where more than one in five people is 65 or older—by 2020, up from just three in 2014.5 These include major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, and South Korea. China’s 65-and-older population is projected to more than triple from approximately 100 million in 2005 to over 329 million in 2050.6 In fact, analysts have estimated that 60 percent of the world’s population over 65 will live in Asia by 2030.7

Compounding the challenge, almost all developed economies now have birth rates below the replacement rate of 2.1.8 This means that companies in these countries must either attract workers from abroad or tap into the maturing workforce. For a view of the challenges ahead, one needs look no further than Japan—the world’s oldest country—where a shortage of roughly 1 million employees in 2015 and 2016 is estimated to cost nearly $90 billion.9

New research is being conducted to help organizations shape their talent and business strategies for an era of longevity. The MIT AgeLab, for example, works with businesses, government, and other stakeholders to develop solutions and policies aimed at engaging the elderly population. The AgeLab uses consumer-centered thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity in order to catalyze innovation across business markets.10

Older talent as a competitive advantage

As talent markets grow more competitive, organizations often find it valuable to keep older workers on the job rather than replace them with younger ones. Our research shows that older workers represent a largely untapped opportunity: Only 18 percent of this year’s respondents said that age is viewed as an advantage in their organization. But leading companies are beginning to focus on this talent pool as a competitive advantage.

The older labor pool represents a proven, committed, and diverse set of workers. More than 80 percent of US employers believe that workers aged 50 and more are “a valuable resource for training and mentoring,” “an important source of institutional knowledge,” and offer “more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.”11 The UK government incentivizes employers to retain, retrain, and recruit older workers, and it is committed to policies that support lifetime learning and training and decrease loneliness and social isolation.12

Proactive organizations are tapping into the older talent pool by extending their career models, creating new development paths, and inventing roles to accommodate workers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. This year, 16 percent of the respondents we surveyed for this report say their companies are creating special roles for older workers, and 20 percent are partnering with older workers to develop new career models. Organizations could find great value in older workers’ ability to serve as mentors, coaches, or experts. Taking on these kinds of roles allows older workers to “pass the baton” to younger generations, while making room for ambitious younger workers.

Many companies are also experimenting with workplace changes to help older employees remain in the workforce. For instance, BMW increased productivity on an assembly line staffed with older workers by 7 percent in just three months through simple changes such as providing cushioned floors and adjustable work benches.13 Home Depot and other organizations are engaging older workers with flexible scheduling options and part-time positions.14 Further, as many as one-third of retirees are willing to work part-time, offering opportunities to leverage this group on a contingent or gig basis.15

Reskilling also plays a role in successful strategies to utilize older talent. One global telecommunications provider encourages senior workers to reinvent themselves and invests in programs to help them acquire new technical skills.16 Software engineers who have built careers on older technologies such as COBOL or C++ can use this experience to learn mobile computing, AI, and other technologies at a very rapid rate.

An interesting and little-known fact, moreover, is that older people are among the most entrepreneurial of workers across age groups. Between 1996 and 2014, the percentage of older workers (aged 55–64) starting new ventures increased—exceeding (by 68 percent) the rate of entrepreneurship among millennial entrepreneurs (aged 20–34), which actually decreased during the same period.17

The new challenges of an aging workforce

The transition toward older talent can present challenges. Older workers may have specialized workplace needs and can attract resentment from younger workers, and they often enjoy higher salaries because of their tenure. Organizations looking to assimilate an older worker population may face the need to design new wage policies, create more flexible rewards programs, and train young leaders to manage people across generations (including team members who may be their parents’ age).

Pensions are another area where longevity impacts organizations. The World Economic Forum estimates that a $70 trillion global retirement savings gap exists today, highlighting the sharp difference between retirement needs and actual retirement income. Moreover, this gap is projected to grow to $400 trillion by 2050.18 Helping older adults to work longer and manage their retirement savings will be a vital need for companies in order to avoid the negative productivity effects of financial stress.

Our Global Human Capital Trends research shows that many organizations are unprepared to deal with the aging of global workforces. Nearly half of the respondents we surveyed (49 percent) reported that their organizations have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age. Rather than seeing opportunity, 20 percent of respondents view older workers as a competitive disadvantage, and in countries such as Singapore, the Netherlands, and Russia, this percentage is far higher. In fact, 15 percent of respondents believed that older employees are “an impediment to rising talent” by getting in the way of up-and-coming younger workers.

Based on these findings and our anecdotal observations, we believe there may be a significant hidden problem of age bias in the workforce today. Left unaddressed, perceptions that a company’s culture and employment practices suffer from age bias could damage its brand and social capital.

Age discrimination is already becoming a mainstream diversity issue and liability concern. More than 21,000 age discrimination complaints were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.19 The problem is particularly acute in Silicon Valley’s technology industry, where older software engineers are often pushed to take lower-paying jobs or look for work outside Silicon Valley because of the emphasis on the “youth culture.”20

The demographic math is undeniable: As national populations age, challenges related to engaging and managing the older workforce will intensify. Companies that ignore or resist them may not only incur reputational damage and possible liabilities, but also risk falling behind those organizations that succeed in turning longevity into a competitive advantage.

The bottom line

Staying competitive in a world of unprecedented longevity demands that organizations adopt new strategies to engage with older talent. Traditional assumptions—that learning ends in one’s 20s, career progression ends in the 40s, and work ends in the 60s—are no longer accurate or sustainable. Rethinking workforce strategies across multiple generations to account for longer lives will require open minds and fresh approaches.

What role does the C-suite play in capitalizing on longevity? How can individuals adjust?

Workers and job seekers aged over 45 will be eligible for training programs to ensure they have the skills necessary to stay in the labour market for as long as they want instead of winding up on the unemployment scrapheap.

As part of the government’s baby boomers package, it will allocate $189.7 million over five years to assist mature-age workers adapt to the changing needs of the economy.

The bulk of the funding, $136.4 million over four years beginning in financial year 2019, will be available as targeted training for registered jobseekers to develop digital skills, enhance their employability and to identify job opportunities in local labour markets.

A Skills and Training Incentive, costing $19.3 million over three years, will provide as much as $2000 for workers aged 45 – 70 at risk of being made redundant through technological or economic change to undertake reskilling or upskilling. The worker or employer will have to match the funding.

A separate $15.2 million program – the Job Change Initiative – will be set up to outline career options for mature-age workers who are considering early retirement or facing redundancy.

The government will expand its Entrepreneurship Facilitators program, which promotes self-employment, to 20 additional locations at a cost of $17.7 million.

Recruiting and retraining

Incentives to hire a worker aged over 50 will be increased modestly by $1.1 million to provide additional wage subsidies for employers worth up to $10,000.

As part of the effort to keep Australians employed longer, workers will be able to undertake an online skills checkpoint when aged between 45 and 65 to provide advice to building their careers or transitioning to new industries.

As well as looking at workers’ employment history and qualifications, the checkpoint will look at their involvement in the community, such as volunteering, to see whether those skills would translate to a new career path.

By targeting workers aged in their late 40s, the hope is they will receive assistance to prolong their careers before running the risk of retrenchment, seniors advocates argue.

The government has flagged a need to drive cultural change and stop discrimination against older workers, promising to develop strategies in conjunction with business and seniors lobby groups.

“The government understands the importance of working with employers to ensure they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining mature age people,” Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash said.

“We also need to support Australians most affected by our transitioning economy by providing opportunities for them to acquire the skills that will equip them for future opportunities and jobs.”

Source: www.afr.com.au

Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment but says his age appears to be a hindrance.

A leading social welfare group will form a coalition to tackle ageism in what is being described as Australia’s biggest campaign to reframe attitudes towards growing older.

The Benevolent Society announced its campaign EveryAGE Counts on Thursday, as it launched a report that revealed concerning findings about growing older.

Executive director of the Benevolent Society Kirsty Nowlan said the research, The Drivers of Ageism, showed a mismatch between perceptions about ageing and reality.

“Views about ageing have a preponderance of negativity,” she said.

“People believe that ageing is a process of inevitable decline. The reality is a lot of the fear about ageing is based on a set of myths.

“Ninety per cent of people over 65 rate their health as excellent. More than 90 per cent of older people live independently, not in a nursing home.

“There is a real dissonance between people’s beliefs and what is actually happening.”

The research found that ageist attitudes were most prevalent around employment with one-third of respondents saying employers should be able to force older workers into reduced roles, one-quarter saying bosses would get better value out of training younger workers than older ones and one-fifth saying younger people should get priority over older people for promotion.

Eighteen per cent of respondents accused people who don’t retire at 65 of stealing jobs from younger people.

Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment. After his wife was diagnosed with dementia, he became her full-time carer. He said that now he is willing to return to the workforce, his age appears to be a hindrance.

“You don’t get told officially but I’ve gone for 22 jobs this month and only got two interviews,” he said. “A few others had strict instructions saying that I currently have to be employed”

Mr Williams had previously been self-employed, running a variety of successful businesses. He said that even applying for jobs at his age can be difficult, with changing technology and changing attitudes.

“I rang a recruiter and said that I was putting in an online application and that I couldn’t find anywhere to put in a cover letter. She said she never reads them anyway.

“Coming back in, technology has changed. I expected that but a lot of the terminology is different too.”

Mr Williams said many of his friends had been in a similar situation and had simply given up on looking for work at their age.

“Friends in my age group, over 50, mostly are just doing volunteering work. They applied for several jobs but just didn’t get any.

“I would like a bit more in my superannuation though. I’m happy to work until I’m 75.

“I’m even starting to look overseas so I can get back into the workforce. At least then I’m actually back in the workforce.”

The research, which involved 1400 participants of varying ages, exposed a number of other negative stereotypes about ageing.

However, it did not state an age at which a person becomes “old”.

Almost 60 per cent of respondents believed mental and physical deterioration were inevitable, 43 per cent associated old age with death and 39 per cent said growing older meant losing independence.

Negative attitudes about the cost associated with ageing also came out in the survey with 19 per cent of respondents saying the amount of money spent on healthcare for the elderly should be rationed.

People aged over 65 who took part in the survey had experienced ageism with 57 per cent saying they’d been told a joke about older people, 38 per cent reporting being patronised and 37 per cent being ignored.

Almost a third of older people said they had been turned down for a job due to their age and 14 per cent said they had been turned down for a promotion.

There were some positive perceptions with 73 per cent of people saying older people had a lot to offer younger people, 65 per cent reporting older people have a strong work ethic and 65 per cent believing older people are responsible.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents agreed that ageism was an important issue.

Australians aged 65 and over comprise about 15 per cent of the population, a proportion set to increase to 23 per cent by 2064, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Dr Nowlan said the campaign would work with governments and the private sector over the next 10 to 15 years to address ageism, a form of discrimination that is likely to affect everyone.

As part of the advocacy, the coalition will lobby for a federal minister to represent older Australians.

“We view this as a long-term campaign of the same scope and scale as the NDIS,” she said.

“This campaign is a 10- to 15-year project aimed at shifting views about growing older.

“We have been given this gift of longer, healthier life and we really ought to make the most of it.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

UPDATE: Liberal frontbenchers Simon Birmingham and Christopher Pyne have backed the process that delivered politicians a minimum $4000 pay rise from next week, with Senator Birmingham insisting their salaries were kept “well and truly in check”.

Australian politicians have been handed a two per cent pay rise from next Saturday on top of their current $199,040 base salary.

On top of that, they will get a tax cut as the 2 per cent budget repair levy is also due to be removed on July 1.

In justifying the decision the tribunal said it had received submissions calling for salaries more in line with the private sector.

“Over the past year there has been a notable increase in submissions to the Tribunal seeking higher remuneration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration,” the statement said.

Mr Pyne said politicians have nothing to do with determining salaries and they’re not in it for the money.

“We do it because it is a wonderful way of helping the society in which we live,” he told the Nine Network

Senator Birmingham said the pay rise came after the minimum wage was bumped up.

“It is an independent process and it was a two per cent pay rise this year, after a pay-freeze that the independent process determined last year. And of course just recently, the minimum pay rise for minimum wage was handed down at 3.3 per cent,” he told Channel Seven.

While he acknowledged parliamentarians were well remunerated Senator Birmingham said they were not there for the money.

“I think you can see the processes working to keep politicians’ salaries well and truly in check, there was a freeze, there’s a lower than the minimum wage as people would think it should be,” Senator Birmingham said.

PM gets payrise

Federal politicians, judges and top public servants will enjoy pay rises of up to $12,000 a year from next week, pushing backbench MPs’ base pay above $200,000 for the first time.

At a time of record low wage growth and rising government debt, the Remuneration Tribunal awarded a 2 per cent pay rise to all senior public office holders yesterday, following another 2 per cent pay rise in January last year.

The latest rise was necessary “to attract and retain” people of “calibre”, the tribunal said, pointing out that minimum wage workers would receive a 3.3 per cent pay rise ($22.20 a week) from next month and public sector wages had increased 2.4 per cent over the year to March.

The boost means backbenchers’ pay, excluding allowances, will rise by just under $4000 to $203,020.

The Prime Minister will get a $10,350 pay rise to $527,854; the High Court chief justice’s base pay will rise $11,461 to $584,511.

“There has been a notable ­increase in submissions to the tribunal seeking higher remun­eration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration,” the tribunal said.

It suggested the era of “economic restraint” that saw pay rise deferrals in 2014 and 2015 was over.

 

Falling private sector wage growth, which earlier this week prompted Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe to invite workers to ask for a rise, rose 1.9 per cent over the year to March.

The Human Rights Commission president’s pay will rise to $423,650.

Some MPs questioned the pay rise last night. Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said: “I think we are already very well paid and don’t need a pay increase at the moment. Given the state of the budget in particular, it’s ill-timed.”

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale said “people have had a gutful”. “At a time when income inequality is out of control and wages are going nowhere, politicians get a pay rise,” he said.

Cabinet ministers, currently paid a base salary of $343,344, will get nearly $7000 extra and will now be paid $350,210 a year.

Heads of the 18 government ­departments in Canberra, who earn up to $861,700 a year, will enjoy pay rises of between $9500 and $12,063, the latter going to the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The tribunal said public office holders were making financial sacrifices. “Office holders serve for the public good (and) many of these office holders do not expect or require that monetary compensation be set at private sector levels,” the tribunal said.

The pay increase will occur as the government’s 2 per cent budget repair levy on top-rate taxpayers end.

“This represents an increase of 1.6 per cent per annum over the 18 months since the last general increase” effective from January 2016, the statement said, noting increases were not granted in 2014 and 2015.

MPs also receive a non-taxable $276 allowance for every night of the 18 weeks a year they are in Canberra.

“This decision is a slap in the face for the thousands of commonwealth public sector workers whose wages have been frozen for well over three years as they’ve been stuck fighting for their basic workplace rights and conditions,” said Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood.

The 170,000 federal public servants have not had a general pay rise since the Coalition was elected in 2013 and have been locked in a battle over renewal of enterprise agreements.

Staff at the Defence Department on Wednesday became the second major department to agree to an enterprise deal which will bring a 6 per cent increase over the next 18 months.

Staff at the Australian Taxation Office and at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are voting on the pay deal today.

“This decision will certainly give frontline public sector workers the impression that there’s one set of rules for them and quite another for those at the top,’’ Ms Flood said.

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd said Ms Flood’s comments were “misleading”.

“The main reason for the delay in employees receiving a pay increase is the CPSU’s persistent campaign opposing salary increases that have been on offer for 3 years for most of the employees. The increases offered have been for an average 2% a year over a 3 year term,” he told The Australian.

“The generous pay and conditions of public servants are not under threat.”

Source: The Australian

 

A Hazelwood worker has labelled tax rules that stop him from qualifying for a genuine redundancy as unjust, and is calling for the rule to be reviewed.

Denis Clough, 66, will not qualify for what the Australian Tax Office (ATO) classifies as a genuine redundancy when the Hazelwood power station shuts its doors in March, because of his age.

Workers who receive a genuine redundancy do not pay tax on part of their termination payment, but payments to workers over the preservation age of 65 years — the age from which a person can access their superannuation — are called employment termination packages (ETP) and do not have the same tax benefits.

Mr Clough has worked in the industry all his life, and started work at Hazelwood 36 years ago.

Older Hazelwood workers get less

He described the moment a colleague pointed out he would pay about $80,000 of his nearly $330,000 pay-out in tax as “shocking”.

Mr Clough said although the smaller payout would not put his plans of being a self-funded retiree at risk, he was angry he was being treated differently because of his age.

“I would have retired in a couple of years and basically ended up with the same money I’ll get by going a couple of years earlier, but I would have preferred to go to work a few more years,” Mr Clough said.

“It’s really just the principle. It’s as if the ATO is being made redundant, not me.

“I’m one of the lucky ones that I could have retired anyway, but there’s people, I don’t know what they’re going to do for a job, how they’re going to pay their debts.

“My real complaint is I just think this is morally wrong, that what they’re doing taxing this as an employment termination package.

“I just would like some politician explain to me how he can morally justify it.”

Australians working longer and retiring later

Financial planner Ben Lancaster has backed Mr Clough’s call for change.

Mr Lancaster said with Australians working longer, it may be time to reconsider the age cut-off.

“It does seem unfair in terms of being over 65, all of a sudden the whole amounts to an ETP,” he said.

“The reasoning behind it would seem that it would assume that it’s not a bona fide redundancy because at 65 you might be retiring, but it does seem with Australians working longer it seems like a bit of outdated legislation.”

Mr Lancaster said there would be more over-65 redundancies as people continued to work later in life.

“The age pension age is lifting, so people will work past 65 to reach the age pension,” he said.

“It would seem logical that 65 seems a bit of an off age in today’s day and age.”

 

Source:  ABC Gippsland

May 21, 2016

AGEISM is rampant in South Australia as employers consistently turn a blind eye to older workers trying to stay in, or re-enter, the workplace.

Experts say the discrimination is causing immense social, financial and health damage — in a state where about 25 per cent of the population is over 55.

The problems facing older people in the workforce were among the key issues to come out of a Sunday Mailspecial investigation into the state’s ageing population.

Anne Burgess, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity SA, said examples of discrimination in the workforce were rife, including:

GIUSEPPE, a 67-year-old long-time IT company worker, being told: “You won’t be around much longer anyway.”

HOWARD, also 67, who has worked for a food industry company for 18 years. The company is trying to retire him on age grounds alone. He refused and his contract was changed from permanent to casual. This year he has been offered no pay rise when all employees under 65 have.

KENNETH, 74, who holds a general builder’s licence. A client is refusing to pay the full bill for a job, saying someone of his age would be a handyman only.

Ms Burgess said older people were telling her office that as they aged, they didn’t feel valued in the workplace.

“There is a case of a paternal feeling coming from some employers, it’s not really valuing older people. It’s very patronising,” she said.

“The worst cases are people aged over 45 who lose their jobs; they tell me they make application after application and as soon as they don’t put their birthdays down, they get an interview. There is not a short-term fix with age discrimination. It’s about people being more proactive about what skills they need.”

Federal Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said too many older people did not enjoy the right to work.

She said the over-55s accounted for just 16 per cent of the workforce, and just 12.7 per cent of over-65s still worked.

“This sharp decline cannot be allowed to continue,” Ms Ryan said. “The number of over 65s will double by 2055 when life expectancy will be well over 90.”

Ms Ryan, who last month released a major report into workplace discrimination, said a 7 per cent increase in mature-age labour force participation would raise Australia’s GDP by about $25 billion within six years.

“We must ensure skilled older workers in sectors that are shrinking, such as car manufacturing or coal mining, are not forced into long-term unemployment. Access to effective skills training that will lead them into growth sectors is key,” she said.

She suggested mature-age apprenticeships could form a part of SA’s future shipbuilding and submarine jobs boom.

Council of the Ageing SA chief executive Jane Mussared agreed that older workers needed to be seen as an asset to employers.

“It’s a big community question; we need to challenge employers upfront and employ the same tactics the gender battle uses,” Ms Mussared said.

“Employers need to understand the mature workforce, what skill sets they offer. Australia needs a workforce that continues to adapt.”

Finding a way past old-fashioned attitudes, and employers who can be subtle in their contempt of older staff, was an immense task, Ms Mussared said.

“Blatant discrimination doesn’t always happen — it’s saying that they are over-qualified or recruiters not putting you forward when they tell you they are,” she said. But she warned that “in challenging it, you can gain a reputation as a troublemaker”, adding: “It’s difficult to deal with.”

Greg Goudie, chief executive of Dome (SA), a state-funded employment and training organisation for mature-age people, conducted a study last month of 500 unemployed people aged over 40.

“Fifty-six per cent felt they had been discriminated againstbecause of their age. Only 6 per cent found gender discrimination,” he said.

“We have made great strides around gender and race discrimination, but there is a lot more work to be done in age discrimination.”

Members of a Sunday Mail roundtable discussion agreed a lack of employment options was a major issue facing the state’s maturing population.

The roundtable of four retirees, aged in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, agreed that volunteering, a traditional stepping stone into the workforce, did not necessarily pave the way back into the workforce for older jobseekers.

Penelope McMillan, 59, of Para Hills, said most employers had a “younger demographic” in mind when hiring.

“The older workers I know tend to be employed by the same, small number of employers,” she said.

Source: The Advertiser

Wednesday, 04 May 2016

The Australian Human Rights Commission has suggested it should be easier for employees to pursue workplace discrimination claims in court, in a major report on age and disability discrimination.

The 528-page report is the result of a year-long AHRC inquiry into work-related age and disability discrimination, and makes more than 50 recommendations.

The Commission notes that at the time of its April 2015 survey some 27 per cent of people over the age of 50 had recently experienced workplace discrimination; and in the past 12 months, nearly one in 12 Australians with disability (8.6%) reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment.

Pursuing discrimination claims should be less of a burden
The AHRC directs nine recommendations to the Federal Government, including that it consider changing the definition of disability under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to align more closely with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ definition.

The latter definition doesn’t focus on individuals’ limitations but rather on “barriers that society constructs for people with disability”, the Commission says.

The Commission also recommends the Government consider the benefits of introducing into law a positive duty to prevent discrimination.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission told the inquiry: “A positive duty is about being proactive. It means eliminating causes of discrimination that may be part of your systems of work, not just responding to complaints that arise.”

A further recommendation is for the Government to consider removing from discrimination laws the “complicated and contentious” comparator test to establish direct discrimination, which “requires a comparison to be made between the way in which a person with a protected attribute (such as disability or age) is treated and the way in which a person without that attribute would have been treated in circumstances that are materially the same”.

Instead, it could use the ACT Discrimination Act’s detriment test, which more simply assesses whether a person has discriminated against another person by treating or proposing to treat the other person unfavourably because of a protected attribute.

The AHRC recommends other ways in which the Government could remove barriers to employees pursuing discrimination claims in court, including:

allowing representative organisations with a sufficient interest to commence federal court proceedings on behalf of workers, but only by leave of the court;
requiring parties to bear their own costs of federal court proceedings, with courts retaining the discretion to make costs orders when considering financial circumstances and other matters;
amending federal discrimination laws to apply to discrimination based on a combination of protected attributes, rather than each separate attribute; and
consulting with workers, employers and peak bodies on the value of developing employment disability standards.
The Commission also found that while employees have a right to request flexible working arrangements under s65 of the Fair Work Act, their inability to appeal an employer’s decision can prevent older workers and workers with disability from receiving such arrangements.

“Individuals and organisations were concerned that this provision ‘lacks teeth’ because employees have no recourse under the Act where they believe an employer’s refusal was not on ‘reasonable business grounds’,” it says, in recommending a review of the provision.

The AHRC also recommends a review of the fairness of the 21-day time limit for making general protections or unfair dismissal claims.

Employer action steps
“Employers, businesses and the organisations that represent them, have a critical role to play in recruiting, retaining and training older people and people with disability,” the Commission says, outlining numerous steps employers can take to prevent workplace discrimination.

Employers should provide managers and supervisors with support to create and manage diverse teams and flexible workplaces, by helping them with job design, training them in how to manage flexible work arrangements, providing them with information on mental health, and training them in the nature and impact of discrimination, it says.

Organisations should also have a “coherent and systemic organisational business strategy” that:

includes voluntary targets for recruiting and retaining older workers and workers with disability, as well as practical strategies to achieve those targets;
regularly tracks and reports on progress and accountability;
encourages employer-to-employer mentoring and partnerships with specialist organisations;
provides employees with guidance on how to support disability disclosure in a non-discriminatory and non-threatening manner;
makes it easy to adjust workplaces when necessary; and
provides internships/traineeships/apprenticeships and mentoring programs.
The AHRC also recommends employers review their recruitment and retention processes to ensure practices, language and accessibility aren’t discriminatory, and outline their diversity expectations to recruitment agencies.

They should also facilitate older workers’ transition into other industries or jobs by providing timely and relevant skills training and identifying transferable skills, and ensure flexible work practices are “mainstream” by making all jobs and work environments flexible, rather than only on request, it says.

Willing to Work, AHRC, May 2016

Source: HR Daily

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