Posts Tagged “mature age”

Professor of management at London Business School Lynda Gratton was in Sydney for the World Business Forum.
Professor of management at London Business School Lynda Gratton was in Sydney for the World Business Forum. Dominic Lorrime

Employers should experiment with pay cuts and salary freezes for older workers to overcome age discrimination at work, a leading human resource professor says.

But any company that follows her advice would risk a public campaign run by advocacy group National Seniors Association.

Lynda Gratton, a London Business School professor and HR consultancy Hot Spots founder who advises big banks and insurance companies in Australia, said companies should consider not giving employees pay rises as they get older, or even giving them a pay cut.

Ms Gratton, who was in Sydney on Wednesday to address the World Business Forum, said:​ “I think one needs to be a bit more creative about how we think of age and salary structure.

“One difficulty is in any corporation, because people’s salary goes up every year, the older you are often the more you’re paid and that makes older people more expensive.

“So one of the things we’ve been playing around with is, would it be sensible for people’s salary not to go up just because they’re getting older and that would make them easier to employ? Would it be possible to think about their salary going down and they do more mentoring and coaching work?

“I think we’ve only ever seen age and salary as a straight line that goes up but why don’t we think about it as a line that goes down?”


National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O’Neill said her comment was “completely out of touch” with the Australian industrial relations system and he would be prepared to fight against any bank or insurance company that reduced employees’ pay on the basis of their age.

“I would be happy to run a campaign against any institution that chooses to reduce workers’ pay because of their age and I’m sure consumers will react,” he said.

“We recognise the contribution older Australians make in the workplace. They should be remunerated fairly and it’s nonsense to say otherwise. Negotiating pay based on a birth certificate is clearly unacceptable.”

Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said Ms Gratton’s comments did not apply to the Australian industrial environment.

“In general people are not paid more just because they had birthdays,” she said. “Most people negotiate their pay with their employer.”

Ms Ryan said in some cases workers might want a less-demanding role as they get older.

“Both the employer and the employee may agree on a different role, with a lesser pay package,” she said.

Most banks and financial sectors had been doing well in addressing age discrimination in the workplace, she said.

“They do it because their customers want to deal with experienced officers. So I think banks recognise the value of the experience of older employees to their business.”


Employers who took Ms Gratton’s advice might also find themselves in legal hot water.

Employment law firm Justicia managing partner Sarah Rey warned that employers who gave staff pay cuts or salary freezes purely on the basis of their age exposed themselves to the risk of unlawful age discrimination.

“Ultimately anti-discrimination laws prevent employers from discriminating on a variety of grounds. So if you are treating someone poorly and it has nothing to do with their performance, then that would be discrimination. If you’re looking to treat them less favourably it has to be something other than age,” she said.

More older workers are projected to remain in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age of 65. But a survey commissioned by the Age Discrimination Commission found in the past two years more than half of jobseekers over 50 were discriminated against on the basis of age.

The Treasury’s Intergenerational Report in 2015 predicts the workforce participation rate among those older than 65 will jump from 12.9 per cent in 2015 to 17.3 per cent in 2055.

To encourage employment of older workers, the government has introduced a grant of up to $10,000 to employers who hire workers older than 50 who have been unemployed for six months or longer.

Ms Gratton said while she was not aware of companies pursuing her pay strategy, in practice older workers were already taking pay cuts as they quit their jobs and moved into different jobs, such as consultancy roles.


“I think in labour market it happens anyway because people leave corporations and they get jobs that pay them less. I think in reality it is happening but I don’t think corporations acknowledge that.”

One way of thinking about salary could be linked to child rearing, she said.

“One could actually say the time when people need most money is when they are in their 30s, when they have young kids to look after. When they are getting paid more in their 40s and 50s is actually when they don’t require as much money.”

Ms Ryan said Ms Gratton’s comment about the expenses related to child-rearing responsibilities did not reflect the diversity of the nation’s families.

“Many in their 50s have got their second families. If they have a second family and a second mortgage they would be in a terrible situation.”

 Source:   AFR

An ageing economy will be a slower and more unequal one—unless policy starts changing now

WARREN BUFFETT, who on May 3rd hosts the folksy extravaganza that is Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders’ meeting, is an icon of American capitalism (see article). At 83, he also epitomises a striking demographic trend: for highly skilled people to go on working well into what was once thought to be old age. Across the rich world, well-educated people increasingly work longer than the less-skilled. Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.

This gap is part of a deepening divide between the well-educated well-off and the unskilled poor that is slicing through all age groups. Rapid innovation has raised the incomes of the highly skilled while squeezing those of the unskilled. Those at the top are working longer hours each year than those at the bottom. And the well-qualified are extending their working lives, compared with those of less-educated people (see article). The consequences, for individuals and society, are profound.

Older, wiser and a lot of them

The world is on the cusp of a staggering rise in the number of old people, and they will live longer than ever before. Over the next 20 years the global population of those aged 65 or more will almost double, from 600m to 1.1 billion. The experience of the 20th century, when greater longevity translated into more years in retirement rather than more years at work, has persuaded many observers that this shift will lead to slower economic growth and “secular stagnation”, while the swelling ranks of pensioners will bust government budgets.

But the notion of a sharp division between the working young and the idle old misses a new trend, the growing gap between the skilled and the unskilled. Employment rates are falling among younger unskilled people, whereas older skilled folk are working longer. The divide is most extreme in America, where well-educated baby-boomers are putting off retirement while many less-skilled younger people have dropped out of the workforce.

Policy is partly responsible. Many European governments have abandoned policies that used to encourage people to retire early. Rising life expectancy, combined with the replacement of generous defined-benefit pension plans with stingier defined-contribution ones, means that even the better-off must work longer to have a comfortable retirement. But the changing nature of work also plays a big role. Pay has risen sharply for the highly educated, and those people continue to reap rich rewards into old age because these days the educated elderly are more productive than their predecessors. Technological change may well reinforce that shift: the skills that complement computers, from management expertise to creativity, do not necessarily decline with age.

This trend will benefit not just fortunate oldies but also, in some ways, society as a whole. Growth will slow less dramatically than expected; government budgets will be in better shape, as high earners pay taxes for longer. Rich countries with lots of well-educated older people will find the burden of ageing easier to bear than places like China, where half of all 50-to-64-year-olds did not complete primary-school education.

At the other end of the social scale, however, things look grim. Manual work gets harder as people get older, and public pensions look more attractive to those on low wages and the unemployed. In the lexicon of popular hate-figures, work-shirking welfare queens breeding at the taxpayer’s expense may be replaced by deadbeat grandads collecting taxpayer handouts while their hard-working contemporaries strive on.

Nor are all the effects on the economy beneficial. Wealthy old people will accumulate more savings, which will weaken demand. Inequality will increase and a growing share of wealth will eventually be transferred to the next generation via inheritance, entrenching the division between winners and losers still further.

One likely response is to impose higher inheritance taxes. So long as they replaced less-fair taxes, that might make sense. They would probably encourage old people to spend their cash rather than salt it away. But governments should focus not on redistributing income but on generating more of it by reforming retirement and education.

Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life. Mandatory retirement ages and pension rules that discourage people from working longer should go. Welfare should reflect the greater opportunities open to the higher-skilled. Pensions should become more progressive (ie, less generous to the rich). At the same time, this trend underlines the importance of increasing public investment in education at all stages of life, so that more people acquire the skills they need to thrive in the modern labour market. Today, many governments are understandably loth to spend money retraining older folk who are likely to retire soon. But if people can work for longer, that investment makes much more sense. Deadbeat 60-year-olds are unlikely to become computer scientists, but they could learn useful vocational skills, such as caring for the growing number of very old people.

Old power

How likely are governments to make these changes? Look around the rich world today, and it is hard to be optimistic. The swelling ranks of older voters, and their disproportionate propensity to vote, have left politicians keener to pander to them than to implement disruptive reforms. Germany, despite being the fastest-ageing country in Europe, plans to cut the statutory retirement age for some people (see article). In America both Social Security (the public pension scheme) and the fast-growing system of disability benefits remain untouched by reform. Politicians need to convince less-skilled older voters that it is in their interests to go on working. Doing so will not be easy. But the alternative—economic stagnation and even greater inequality—is worse.

Source:  The Economist

A new study has found that although Australia’s talent shortage is continuing to be a prevalent issue, the number of employers implementing a strategy to deal with it is down by 5% from last year.

ManpowerGroup Australia’s tenth annual Talent Shortage Survey, which interviewed over 1,500 employers around the country, found that 42% of Aussie employers are struggling to fill roles.

Researchers found that employers are stepping away from addressing the talent shortage at a rate of one and a half times their global counterparts.

Lincoln Crawley, managing director at ManpowerGroup Australia and New Zealand called this pattern “alarming and disappointing”.

“Globally we have seen the number of businesses taking on strategies to counter the talent shortage increase, while on home soil this number has dropped dramatically over a 12 month period,” he said. “Australian employers are giving up.”

Crawley advised employers to tie a talent shortage strategy in with offering unorthodox ways of working.

“We are observing a divergence across the economy,” he said. “Employers who fail to adopt non-traditional work practices risk becoming irrelevant to the new generation of workers, while those that innovate will succeed.”

Experts at ManpowerGroup Australia shared the following tips with HC on how to address and tackle a skills shortage:

1. Have strong training and development programs so staff are continuously learning and growing

2. Establish realistic and regular incentive programs

3. Promote a family-friendly and flexible work environment while maintaining high standards of work and results

4. Utilise new parents returning to the workforce and consider job sharing to maximise the flexibility they are offered

5. Consider older staff – hiring over 50s qualifies companies for a government subsidy

6. Consistently work on strengthening your company’s point of difference to attract and retain the best in the industry

7. Communicate with your people regularly

8. Don’t forget to praise staff when they do a good job

9. Make efforts to inject fun into the workplace so people are excited and motivated even when times are tough

10. Design medium to long term career plans to give staff visibility to all potential career paths

Employers around Australia reported that the most difficult roles to fill were management and executive positions, skilled trades and sales representatives. Skilled trades have remained the most challenging positions to fill for nine years.

“While skilled trades have continued to be the hardest roles to fill for nearly a decade, the demand profile has changed in recent years,” said Crawley. “Demand for roles like electricians and mechanics has eased, while a shift in infrastructure developments across the country is seeing demand outstrip supply for specialist engineers, labourers and skilled trades in infrastructure and construction.”

He added that one of the biggest challenges posed to employers was finding “ready-made specialists, rather than investing in developing existing skills”.

Crawley also called for employers to ensure that IT workers are being invested in so that they can reskill to remain relevant, adding that many IT roles are becoming obsolete.

According to the study’s findings, employers are aware of the constraints that skills shortages are putting on their company despite their apparent reluctance to take action.

Forty-six per cent said that skills shortages were reducing their ability to serve their clients, 33% said they were a hindrance to their organisation’s productivity and competitiveness, and 23% said it lowered employee engagement and morale.

The ten most difficult jobs to fill in 2015:

1.     Skilled trades
2.     Management / executives
3.     Sales representatives
4.     Engineers
5.     Technicians
6.     Labourers
7.     Accounting and finance staff
8.     Drivers
9.     IT Staff
10.   Secretaries, PAs, receptionists, administrative assistants and office support staff

Source:  HC Online
Beyond being told or incentivised to hire older workers, employers need to feel they are making the right decision. Image sourced from

With Australia’s official retirement age heading to 70 by 2035, this year’s federal budget brings forward incentives designed to encourage companies to employ older workers.

The Restart Program, which provides $10,000 to employers to hire over 50s will have payments accelerated, and the government will also provide incentives to older unemployed people to retrain in order to get a job.

The measures go part of the way to addressing the challenges faced by older workers, but come amid ongoing age discrimination in Australia.

Empirical evidence suggests negative stereotypes are at the heart of this form of ageism. Such stereotypes are found among employers as well as the community at large.

Ageist attitudes and related stereotypes are a general socio-cultural phenomenon and are not confined to the workplace, meaning employers’ attitudes toward older workers are simply a reflection of a broader worldview. Being in positions where their decisions have direct impact on the lives of older workers, however, means their views attract more attention than those of other people.

It is not the intention of employers, who typically seek the best person for the job, to discriminate against older workers. But stereotypes are activated automatically in response to cues. For example, a person’s age, appearance, or date of graduation from school are all relevant cues that impact perception and judgement. Despite best intentions, employers’ judgement can be automatically biased by ageist stereotypes so they may miss the best person for the job in cases where it happens to be an older worker.

Common interventions to address ageism toward older workers have been in the form of policies, legislation, and fact sheets, with the former aimed at enforcing fair practice and the latter providing information. Policies, however, provoke resistance to change when people are being told to think and/or behave in particular ways and feel their free choice is threatened. Fact sheets, incongruent with employers’ worldviews, are often perceived as incorrect.

Getting past stereotypes

There are however ways to promote positive attitudes toward older adults among employers and increase the likelihood of them being hired.

One intervention tested successfully involved inducing cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a mentally unsustainable state that is evoked when a person holds two contradictory thoughts and/or beliefs simultaneously.

People are naturally driven to reduce cognitive dissonance, so much so that it often results in them either changing their attitude or further affirming their initial positions.

In our study we made employers aware that discriminating against older workers was potentially counterproductive and against our culturally enshrined value of a “fair-go”. Having been asked to endorse this view and provide their names, employers were advised they would be listed as people who opposed hiring discrimination against older adults and who were committed to non-discriminatory practice. This meant they would ultimately experience cognitive dissonance in response to activation of negative stereotypes in subsequent considerations of older workers.

We also developed fact sheets based on common misconceptions about older workers. Combining the cognitive dissonance aspect with the fact sheet produced the strongest effect.

Employers who participated in this part of the study showed more positive attitudes toward older workers overall, stated that they were more than likely to hire older workers, and considered age to be less important in making hiring decisions.

Attitudes are said to be relatively resistant to change, but by refuting misconceptions and enabling cognitive dissonance to be evoked in employers, we enabled them to maintain a sense of self-integrity as well as professionalism because these were now aligned with fair treatment of older workers.

Ultimately, it was the internal motivation of hiring decision makers that made the difference, as opposed to dictating to employers how they should behave. The next phase is to discuss various ways the intervention could be implemented.

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


Rachel Kent, a former IT consultant, volunteers to help other seniors in Sydney. Picture:

Rachel Kent, a former IT consultant, volunteers to help other seniors in Sydney. 

The employment of Australians aged 45 and older is said to be worth $27.4 billion each year, through reduced human resources costs.

A new study shows that workers older than 45 help reduce turnover, bringing down recruitment and training expenses, and also serve as a valuable source of informal care while giving back to the community through volunteer work.

Research funded by the Nation­al Seniors Productive Ageing Centre puts the economic value of these contributions at $65.7bn per year, providing a “significant offset” to perceived sustain­ability issues posed by an ageing population.

The findings, to be released by National Seniors Australia, suggest that a worker aged 45 will remain with an employer 3.7 times longer than a younger worker.

The paper also shows the contribution of Australians aged 45 and older in providing informal care for the elderly or those with disabilities is $20.5bn, while the value of those caring for their grand­kids is estimated at $1.5bn.

The involvement of mature-aged Australians in volunteer work is valued at $16.3bn per year, with data showing that 1.6 million people older than 45 volunteer in some capacity for an average of 6.09 hours per week.

Rachel Kent, a 69-year-old pensioner who lives in the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, gives her time to help senior citizens devel­op their computer skills, use emails and navigate the internet.

Ms Kent is a former IT training consultant and says she is happy giving her time to help others, particularly older Australians and women who need to update skills upon re-entering the workforce.

“I would like to help older people because they can feel so isolated if they are not using a computer and today with tablets it’s really so much more simple,” she said.

“It was something I always had in mind in when I was working.

“I also like to help women who want to go back to work for whatever reason.”

Roy Stall, a 71-year-old former naval officer, also volunteers up to six days a month at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle and is still active in Asia as a specialist in maritime English.

“I think we make a contribution to the economy,” he said. “Our economic contribution is not often appreciated and certainly what we can contribute back to the community is not necessarily valued in the corridors of power.’’


Source:  The Australian

Joe Hockey says employers need to make their workplaces more flexible for older Australians.
Joe Hockey says employers need to make their workplaces more flexible for older Australians. Photo: AAP.

Employers may need more help to change their attitudes about taking on older Australians, Treasurer Joe Hockey has told a public forum.

They may also need to make their workplaces more flexible so that older workers are more able to work.

“Whatever the case, we cannot afford to let this large talent pool go to waste,” Mr Hockey said in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Hockey’s intergenerational report released last month, highlighted that as Australians are living longer, they need to work longer.

If older workers do not stay in the workforce for longer, fewer people will be working and paying taxes to fund health, education and other things we take for granted today.

“If we don’t do something, we risk reducing our available workforce, impacting negatively on growth and prosperity, and our income will come under increasing pressure,” Mr Hockey said when the report was released.

The intergenerational report, a five-yearly review of the next 40 years, anticipates economic growth will slow slightly due to an ageing population.

Average annual growth is expected to be 2.8 per cent over the next four decades, compared with 3.1 per cent in the past 40 years.

There will be only three workers in the traditional age range (15-64 years) for every person aged over 65 in 2054/55, compared with 4.5 people now and 7.3 in 1974/75.

Mr Hockey has previously stated that increased productivity and workforce participation is needed to drive prosperity through economic growth.

“If we are to achieve these goals, we need to encourage those currently not in the workforce, especially older Australians and women, to enter, re-enter and stay in work, where they choose to do so,” he said.

Source:  AAP

By Carmen Hall

John Harper has been a plumber for 40 years and hopes to work up to or beyond retirement age
John Harper has been a plumber for 40 years and hopes to work up to or beyond retirement age

Employers are likely to overlook older job seekers, a new report reveals – but local recruitment agencies say although it is more difficult for those aged over 50 to find jobs they are harder workers.

A survey from the Auckland University of Technology and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust found there was a “tipping point,” typically at about 50-60 years of age, at which workers were seen as less attractive.

Read more here: Editorial: Bosses need to grasp reality

It also showed 45 per cent of organisations were facing a skills shortage, which was combated by people continuing to work past retirement age.


“You have to be open to the best person that comes through the door, whether they are male, female, old or young.”


However, negative stereotypes about older workers persisted among some employers, managers, young workers, clients and within society itself, despite it being unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age in employment under the Human Rights Act 1993 and Employment Relations Act 2000, the survey found.

Human Resource Group company director Brett Looker said: “It is harder once you get over 50.

“It’s possibly a preconceived perception by the general public that candidates may not be as quick to pick up on business systems and processes if they are moving into a new role, in terms of the IT challenges. Another reason is they may not possibly fit with the existing team, which may be younger.”

However, he preferred to steer candidates through to clients in that age group because they often had a strong work ethic, and were reliable and honest.

“You don’t get the contrast of a Generation Y type group, which sometimes isn’t as strong, so there is lots of positives.”

There was a skills shortage in Tauranga in some areas, Mr Looker said, including engineering, housing, construction and senior management roles.

“I interviewed a guy recently who was a quantity surveyor in his late 60s but whether or not I have a role for him is difficult to know, for the very reasons we have talked about.”

1st Call Recruitment managing director Phill van Syp said he found older people “just get on with the job, they are more focused on what they need to do rather than – you know – what is in it for me?” “You would be an ignorant employer if you isolated your market,” Mr van Syp said.

“You have to be open to the best person that comes through the door, whether they are male, female, old or young.”

Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Grey Power president Christina Humphreys said older people were discriminated against when applying for jobs.


“You don’t get the contrast of a Generation Y type group, which sometimes isn’t as strong, so there is lots of positives.”


“We are having a problem. We know people are not getting the jobs because they are older.”

She knew of people who had applied for over 20 jobs in a month and were depressed after continually making the shortlist but missing out. “They have got the qualifications and they all get to the 11th hour, and we know it’s because they are older.”

Bay of Plenty/Coromandel Master Plumbers Association president Craig McCord said the average age of a plumber was 55 and he employed eight people aged over 50.

However, most people had put down their toolbelt by the time they reached retirement age.

“The cut and thrust is, it’s too physical.”

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce interim chief executive Toni Palmer said age was not what defined an employee but more how they worked within an environment and what they brought to the workplace.

Employers did not necessarily see people over 50 as less employable, as they would look at those employees for the skills they had, she said.

“And as skills are becoming more difficult to get, then the age of the employee becomes less relevant, at either end of the age scale.”

Employees now moved more frequently to build a career and gain knowledge, she said.

No downing of tools for plumber

Tauranga plumber John Harper has no intention of retiring any time soon.

The 59-year-old said he would definitely work to 65 or possibly longer as his job was keeping him active.

“I am enjoying what I am doing and I don’t think that reaching 65 would change that much.”

His job could be physically demanding but he was up for the challenge.

“We are always moving around; sometimes you’ll be climbing or crawling on your knees and on your back or digging so you are quite mobile.”

But that was good for working up a sweat and getting the heart rate up, he said.


New Zealand recorded the second highest employment rate of people aged 55-64 among OECD countries in 2012 and 2013 and third highest of people aged 65-69 in 2012.

As at June 2014, 22 per cent of workers in New Zealand were aged 55 or over.

Government predicts this will rise to 25 per cent by 2020, with many likely to remain working beyond 65.

The proportion of the labour force aged 65 or over (currently 5 per cent) is expected to increase to 13 per cent by 2036.

– NZ Work Research Institute

– Bay of Plenty Times

Date: April 6, 2015 

Anna Patty

Workplace injuries are set to rise as a result of the expected increase in the number of people working past the age of 65, raising concern about cuts to workers’ compensation schemes around the country and pressure on welfare services, lawyers warn.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the federal government’s intergenerational report predicted the proportion of workers older than 65 will grow from 12.9 per cent to 17.3 per cent by 2051. The former Labor government raised the retirement age from 65 to 67 by 2023 and federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has said Generation X Australians might have to keep working until they are 70.

ALA national president Andrew Stone said cuts in benefits to injured workers through state-based workers’ compensation schemes around the country, particularly in NSW, could have long-term consequences for a rapidly ageing workforce.

“If the government expects people to work longer, where does it expect that these people will receive support if they are injured?” Mr Stone said.

“An ageing worker is more likely to suffer a non-serious workplace injury and fall into a lower category of coverage, potentially receiving less support or even being denied workers’ compensation medical and income benefits.

“This is particularly the case in heavy industries, where it will be physically difficult for people to work longer, as well as in less physically demanding workplaces.”

The increased risk meant a long-term vision was needed to support injured workers, Mr Stone said.

The introduction of a no-fault National Injury Insurance Scheme meant state-based workers compensation schemes were being reviewed, he said.

“Eligibility criteria for the [National Disability Insurance Scheme] and [National Injury Insurance Scheme] will likely mean that people injured at work would be unable to access these schemes for support to a significant degree.

“If these people are also denied access to workers’ compensation, it will mean that their only means of support could be under the Disability Support Pension, Centrelink or Medicare. This has already been seen in NSW.

“It is important that governments resist such pressures to raise thresholds, reduce caps and remove lump-sum commutations as a short-term fix.”

The intergenerational report suggested the proportion of taxpayers was declining as part of the ageing population, he said. By 2055, the number of people aged between 15 to 64 would be only 2.7 times greater than the number aged 65, compared to 4.5 times greater today.

“The choices that state and territory governments make now about how they fund the NIIS could have resounding impacts when considering a long-term vision for how we care for older Australians in decades to come.

“If states take the easy option and simply raise damage thresholds now to pay for no-fault catastrophic insurance, the damage will be extensive.”

A spokeswoman for WorkCover said the system was designed to be fair and affordable and to assist injured workers to return to work. She said WorkCover was looking at the demographic trends and workplace impacts of an ageing workforce.

People injured after they reach retirement age are currently entitled to weekly payments for 12 months after an injury that leaves unable to work.

Seriously injured workers with more than 30 per cent whole person permanent impairment receive medical treatment rehabilitation and support benefits related to their injury for life.

“The workers’ compensation scheme’s chief purpose is to support injured workers to return to work by encouraging employers to make alternative duties or changes in duties to help their recovery in the workplace. This approach is more important for older workers, as their place of employment is often their key social and community outlet,” the spokeswoman said.

Source:  SMH

Date: April 4,  2015

Nick Toscano

Older warehouse workers are being stood down without pay at Linfox sites across Melbourne, fanning fears the transport giant is forcing out permanent staff in favour of “churn-and-burn” casuals.

John Russell has been laid off by his employer Linfox on returning to work after a back injury with 37 years on the job.

John Russell has been laid off by his employer Linfox on returning to work after a back injury with 37 years on the job. Photo: Simon Schluter

John Russell looked over the letter from his boss again, staggered by the news.

The forklift driver had taken time off work with a shoulder injury but his doctor had cleared him as fit to return. He assumed his job of 37 years would be safe. He was wrong.

The letter from transport giant Linfox said the 65-year-old was now stood down without pay after an assessment by company doctors. It said he was deemed unable to perform “inherent requirements” of the job, specifically, using a hand-held scanning device.

Older workers like Mr Russell are being stood down from Linfox warehouses across Melbourne, according to their union, which has accused the company of phasing out permanent staff in favour of “churn-and-burn” casuals from labour-hire companies.

Organisers say up to 100 older or unfit workers have been targeted at a single distribution centre in Truganina over the past 12 months, under a “blanket policy” to wipe out those unable perform every aspect of warehouse work.

The figure is not disputed by Linfox, which said the stand-downs were the result of productivity-boosting initiatives introduced last July at the distribution centre that Linfox operates for Coles.

Mr Russell spent most of his working life employed by Linfox, Australia’s largest private logistics company. But he is now in limbo – jobless without being officially terminated, and unable to claim the pension.

“I felt terrible, actually,” he said.

“Linfox has hundreds of sites around Melbourne and there must be jobs out there with lighter duties if that’s what they want … but they are replacing the older people with younger casuals [who] they can work as hard as possible. It shows a lack of loyalty and disrespect.”

National Union of Workers organiser Matt Toner said the company had instituted a blanket policy of targeting workers it considered “liabilities”.

“Within a warehouse there are different jobs done by people who are a bit older and have been with the company a long time, like fork-work, lane-marshalling and clerical,” he said.

“But new management now says that unless you are doing everything here, we don’t want you here.”

Mr Toner said workers planned to step up industrial pressure on Linfox management to stop older staff being “thrown on the scrap heap”.

A Linfox spokeswoman said the new processes at Truganina were communicated to company employees and were not in violation of workplace law.

“To date, the Fair Work Commission has not indicated that Linfox is in breach of the relevant provisions arising from the national enterprise agreement or with respect to specific general protections arising from the Fair Work Act,” she said.

The company had also engaged an workplace expert to draw up “reasonable expectancies” for orders to be completed and ready for distribution, she said.

Industrial tension between the union and Linfox appear to escalating after the company recently filed a submission to a sweeping review of the Australian industrial relations system. Linfox alleges shift workers were harassed by union recruiters at the site in 2013 and has made fresh calls for restrictions on organisers entering workplaces.

The union strongly denies the claims, and said it was disappointed by the company’s decision to air allegations dating back two years. Linfox’s submission includes extracts of 10 written complaints by workers employed that year and said existing right-of-entry laws lacked balance.

Source:  Brisbane Times