Posts Tagged “mature age”


The Human Rights Commission has launched a new video awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the value of older workers.

The Power of Oldness, launched by Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan and Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz exposes the stark difference between the skills and strengths mature workers offer employers and organisations, with the discrimination they face when trying to gain or maintain jobs.

It is a web campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of workers over the age of 50, with the video as its centrepiece.

Ms Ryan said Australians were living through a massive demographic change, but community attitudes, employer practices and business strategies seemed to ignore this.

“The Power of Oldness campaign will, we hope, prod everyone to recognise and act to stop age discrimination,” Ms Ryan said.

Rights Commission launches video

“Research undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that one in 10 employers won’t recruit people over the age of 50.”

She said it was important that the experience and talent of older workers was highlighted as they already contributed to business and the community and had much more to offer.

Senator Abetz said the campaign was a way of getting the message about the value of older workers, to people of all ages around Australia.

“The video juxtaposes reality and perceptions in what I consider to be an active, pacey and poignant presentation,” Senator Abetz said.

More information on the Power of Oldness can be found at this PS News link.

Posted by Susan Ryan on 19 August 2014

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on employers to take the age blinkers off and give experienced workers a fair go as part of a new positive ageing campaign titled The Power of Oldness.

Of all the complaints that the Australian Human Rights Commission receives about age discrimination, almost 60 per cent relate to employment. And these figures are an underrepresentation of overall cases. I also receive letters from older people and their families who do not wish to make a complaint, but want their stories to be heard. Their stories of repeated effort and repeated knockbacks are heartbreaking.

At a time when we are living longer and healthier lives, and when the Australian economy is crying out for skilled works, this should not be happening.

As Age Discrimination Commissioner my constant message is – give experienced workers a fair go. Take the age blinkers off and assess job applicants for what they can bring to the task.

When we waste the talents of mature workers, we not only harm them as individuals, we harm the economy, to the tune of billions of dollars lost each year.

I am encouraged that the challenge has been recognised by the Federal Government. An initiative announced in the budget shows leadership in the matter of recruiting and keeping mature workers.

On 1 July the Restart Programme commenced. This programme offers an incentive of $10,000 over two years to employers who hire a previously unemployed person over 50.

There are thousands of experienced capable older workers ready to work. All employers should look at the widest talent pool available, and appoint the best person for the job. Often, the best person will be the one with extensive, relevant work experience.

I am confident that when employers avail themselves of this incentive and take on an older person, the negative stereotypes about experience will disappear.

My message to employers is to give a 50-plus worker a go. Help restart their career – you won’t know what you’ve been missing out on until you try it.

For more information about the Restart Wage Subsidy, visit the Department of Employment’s website.

Source:  Living Well Navigator

Susan Ryan is a regular contributor to Living Well Navigator. Read more of Susan’s opinions on positive ageing:

Helpful links

Australian Human Rights Commission
Restart Programme

Posted by Judy Higgins on 30 July 2014

In workplaces all over the world, managers are for the first time dealing with the issues that arise when up to four generations work side by side.

Older workers stay on in employment for a variety of reasons. Some can’t afford to retire, others enjoy work and choose to continue, and in many cases mature employees want to build up their superannuation.

Organisations put themselves in a vulnerable position if they don’t have a profile of workers based on age and by section of the organisation. In an environment with an ageing population and ageing workforces, organisations need to be on the front foot. A profile of the age of your workers is essential, and a strategy to address retention and transition to retirement should now be part of any human resources strategy.

Talk to your older staff about their working plans. You will need to discuss:

  • How long they intend to continue working
  • Do they intend to keep working the same hours or slowly transition to retirement?
  • Will they be able to continue to do the same job for those years or will they need to re-train?
  • Developing an individual workplace plan

Critical to the effectiveness of this exercise is ensuring the discussion takes place in a non-threatening manner and that mature-age workers feel comfortable and confident to take part in the discussion. A carefully worded letter or memo should be sent to individuals from the Managing Director or CEO, advising them how valued they are and how serious the organisation is about retaining and working with employees who may be thinking about retiring.

Given that the age to access the age pension may rise to 70, considerations of older workers will be more important than ever. There are also many who will not want to work that long, and if they are some of your key people you need to know, and you need to have a strategy to address filling the gaps.

You must also make sure you have the policies and procedures in place to reflect that your company is sincere about valuing its older workers, and has the flexibility and trained managers to work in the best interests of all stakeholders. Companies that don’t do this well risk losing years of experience and knowledge that could be detrimental to their business.


Source:  The Living Well Navigator

Saturday Aug 16, 2014

Brian Gaynor on business Business Economy… Employment Opinion

Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand, where increasingly more young adults are extending their education.
Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand, where increasingly more young adults are extending their education.
The New Zealand workforce has changed dramatically over the past 24 years.

In mid-1990 our workforce was young and energetic with 338,500, or 22 per cent, of all employed workers in the 15 to 24 age bracket. By mid-2014 the total number of 15 to 24 year old workers had declined to 325,700 or just 14 per cent of the workforce.

This development has been mainly due to a dramatic increase in the number of 15 to 24-year-olds undertaking additional, post-secondary school education.

Meanwhile, the number of workers aged 65 and over has soared from 23,900 in 1990 to 127,500 in mid-2014. In other words individuals aged 65 and over now represent 5.5 per cent of the workforce compared with just 1.6 per cent 24 years ago.

Energetic grey-haired men and women have replaced young employees in shops, offices, medical centres and other areas of employment.

Based on current trends there is a strong possibility that by 2054 there will be more individuals from the 65- plus age group in full or part time employment than 15 to 24-year- olds.

This has major implications for our economy, NZ Superannuation and KiwiSaver.

The accompanying table shows how employment trends have changed since mid-1990, particularly as far as the 15 to 24 and the 65 and over age groups are concerned.

The first point to note is that the unemployment rate is the number of individuals who are actively looking for a job but cannot find one.

The second point is the participation rate, which is the percentage of an age group in the workforce, both employed and unemployed.

The participation rate for the 65 and over age group has soared from just 6.9 per cent in 1990 to 20.6 per cent in the June 2014 Household Labour Force Survey. The 65 years- plus male participation rate has risen from 10.6 per cent to 26.5 per cent while the female rate has increased from 4 per cent to 15.3 per cent over this 24-year period.

There are more elderly New Zealanders in the workforce than in most other countries. For example, our 65-plus participation rate is 20.6 per cent compared with 18.7 per cent in United States, 12.1 per cent in Australia and just 9.8 per cent in the United Kingdom. Europeans retire much earlier, with France, Germany, Italy and Spain having 65 years of age-plus workplace participation rates of 2.3 per cent, 5.5 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand.

There are a number of reasons why more and more of the 65-plus age group are remaining in the workforce.

These include:

• Health – individuals are healthier and living longer.

• Education – highly educated people work longer and our workforce is far better qualified than it was in 1990.

• Occupations – there are more and more clerical, non-manual jobs, that suit older workers.

• Financial – New Zealanders are concerned about their low level of savings and rising health costs, particularly health insurance.

• Rules and regulations – the removal of the mandatory retirement age in 1999 and the introduction of anti-discrimination rules as far as older workers are concerned.

• Family dynamics – a high percentage of women stay in the workforce until their husbands retire as do individuals, particularly women over 65, after a marriage breakup.

• Employer preferences – employers seem to have a liking for 65-plus-year-olds because this age group has a 1.6 per cent unemployment rate compared with 14 per cent for the 15 to 24 age group and 5.4 per cent for the total workforce.

But New Zealand Superannuation is one of the main reasons why such a high percentage of the population stay in the workforce after they reach 65 years of age.

NZ Super is relatively unique because it applies to everyone once they reach 65 years of age, is not subject to any income test or means test and is not contingent on retirement.

Thus, there is a strong incentive for individuals to stay in the workforce until they reach 65.

However, lowly paid workers are effectively incentivised to retire when they start receiving NZ Super because this represents a high percentage of their preretirement income.

Conversely, highly paid individuals have a strong incentive to stay in the workforce because NZ Super is neither income tested nor means tested and represents a much smaller per cent of their employment income.

In other words, NZ Super is an extremely effective culling system because it encourages unskilled workers to leave the workforce while enticing the highly skilled to stay.

In addition, most New Zealanders have the majority of their wealth tied up in residential property, which doesn’t generate income if it is the family home. Thus, they are incentivised to continue working because of the low level of income generated from their property-dominated investment portfolio.

What will be the long-term impact of KiwiSaver on the country’s workforce, particularly the number of 65-year-olds and over that will want to remain working?

Overseas studies show that individuals in a defined contribution superannuation scheme (a scheme where the outcome is unknown and is determined by investment returns) usually work longer than individuals who are in a defined benefit superannuation scheme (they received a fixed income every week or month regardless of investment returns).

As KiwiSaver is a defined contribution scheme it should not have a major impact on the willingness of our over 65s to continue working.

However, there is a strong argument that compulsory superannuation in Australia, which is also a defined contribution scheme, is encouraging our transtasman cousins to retire earlier because of the huge lump sums they have built up.

However, if employers here are willing to make a voluntary contribution to KiwiSaver schemes after their employees reach 65, it would be a huge incentive for New Zealanders to remain in the workforce.

Recent studies, particularly an AMP survey, indicate that a large percentage of KiwiSaver members want to use KiwiSaver to repay their mortgage and other borrowings. This suggests that KiwiSaver is not going to discourage the 65 years and over age group from remaining in the workforce.

There is no doubt that a greying workforce is a positive development for the New Zealand economy. This is because it helps retain our more highly skilled workers, it enables younger people to obtain additional education and it keeps the pressure off wage increases, inflation and interest rates.

However, one of the country’s main challenges is to raise our overall skills level, particularly in information technology where older workers have limited abilities.

It is depressing to note that 371,500 individuals, representing 16 per cent of the total workforce, have absolutely no formal qualifications, either school or post-school.

These individuals will find it increasingly difficult to find gainful employment in the modern economy.

Conversely, this gives the highly skilled 65-plus age group more and more opportunities to remain in the workforce.

Source: New Zealand Herald

Author:  Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on insurers to design new, accessible and affordable products tailored to older Australians.

Whether they’re contributing to the workforce, volunteering their time, or travelling the world, older Australians are an active bunch and increasingly so. Yet all these activities may involve risk, and with risk comes the potential need for insurance.

In my role as Age Discrimination Commissioner, I hear many stories from older Australians who have had trouble securing affordable insurance or finding any suitable insurance product at all. A lack of insurance has limiting and negative effects for older Australians.

Income protection insurance often cuts out at age 65, yet many older Australians are capable and want to work well beyond that age.

It was announced in the recent budget that by 2035, Australians will not be eligible for the age pension until they turn 70, so working to that age will become the reality for many. Also, organisations that rely on volunteers buy group insurance, but it may not cover older volunteers. Travel insurance premiums increase with age, but it’s important that they are not so prohibitively high that older Australians would be tempted to travel uninsured.

Failing to provide insurance to older people or charging higher premiums is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. The Age Discrimination Act, which is the general protection that all people have against discrimination on the basis of age, has an exception for insurance. Insurers can discriminate based on age as long as the difference in treatment is based on actuarial or statistical data, or is otherwise reasonable.

Despite this exception, I have been making the case to the insurance industry that better, more accessible information about available insurance products should be provided. In addition, I can see a strong business case to be made to insurers to design new products that are tailored to seniors, and are accessible and affordable.

While the industry is considering these messages, the voice of older Australians who themselves are seeking a good deal on insurance products add to my advocacy. Older Australians can shop around for insurance and find the best product available to them.

Finally, if you think you have been discriminated against by an insurer, you are still able to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, who can investigate and attempt to resolve your complaint.

You can get further information by calling 1300 656 419 or visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.