Posts Tagged “older workers”

Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.

The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.

“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.

Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study

Just two days after The Guardian’s article, Bartley received two offers of part-time work and has accepted a hospitality role with a local family-run café.

The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.

“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.

“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”

Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.

Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.

“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.

“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”

“A whole new workforce”

Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.

Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.

“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.

“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”

“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”

Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.

“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.

It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.

“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.

Source: Startupsmart

AGEISM: A recent survey of job seekers highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.
AGEISM: A recent survey of job seekers highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.

AGE is one of the largest barriers to career development, according to new research from workplace solutions experts ManpowerGroup Solutions.

The survey polled 4500 global job seekers from influential employment markets, including Australia, to explore their attitudes to job search and career progression.

The study found Australians are more likely than American and British candidates to cite ageism as one of the top challenges they face in making career decisions – with 37% of Australian respondents citing ageism as a key barrier to overcome.

General manager at ManpowerGroup Solutions, Australia and New Zealand, Sue Howse, said the survey highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.

“Despite this perception, we know that employers who embrace candidates across a broad age spectrum, will benefit and are likely to create a competitive advantage in terms of addressing skills shortages,” Ms Howse said.

She said very few big businesses in Australia are capitalising on the availability of older workers, despite the clear anecdotal evidence of benefits they bring to the workplace.

“We know there are a number of ‘un-retirees’ or ‘boomerang workers’ – individuals who come out of retirement or return to work for a previous employer – who could currently fill open positions,” she said.

“In this context, embracing generational diversity to overcome talent shortages makes a lot of sense.

“It’s not just about agreeing to hire older workers either. Employers need to be cognisant of intergenerational differences and accommodate work preferences of different age groups.

“For those who are willing to make the necessary adjustments at an organisational level, we know there will be a number of positive flow-on effects – from addressing skills shortages to creating diverse workplace cultures.”

With a rapidly aging population and over 65s projected to increase in numbers from 3.5 million to 5.8 million over the next 15 years, the findings of the report also suggest that helping businesses to recruit an older workforce is an economic necessity.

The research also follows a recent report suggesting an older workforce could deliver gains of $78 billion to the Australian economy through increased GDP.

Source:  Chinchilla News

 

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

competitionBy Alex Fradera

Places of work have become fairer thanks to their embrace of meritocracy: the idea that the best person for the job is the right person for the job. Formal assessment processes, for example, help ensure that interviews are granted on merit, rather than allocating them based on which resumes remind the hiring manager of a younger version of themselves. One consequence of meritocracy is the replacement of seniority-based promotion – you get a better position when “it’s your time” – with one based on ability, a development that means younger people with the appropriate skills can leapfrog older colleagues and end up managing them. Unfortunately, according to new research in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, this can have nasty repercussions.

Florian Kunze and Jochen Menges surveyed employees at 61 German companies, based primarily in the service industry, but also finance, manufacturing, and trade. Nearly 8000 participants described their age difference in relation to their managers, and a subset reported their experience of various negative emotions over the last six months. Managers tended to be older than those they managed, but on average a quarter of relationships did involve younger managers. Crucially, in companies where the size of the age gap was larger between younger managers and older subordinates, employees tended to report more negative emotions, such as anger or fear, experienced over the last six months.

Why would this be? Consider how the older subordinates might feel. We tend to measure our life progress by using our peers as a benchmark, particularly those in our age cohort, who may provoke a flush of envy if they rise far past us. But more brutal yet is when those who should be behind us pull ahead, rubbing our faces in our own inability to keep pace. And when such a person is managing you, it’s hard to avoid this.

More broadly, being under the supervision of someone younger than us is a simple status incongruence, like being lectured on your dress sense by your precocious 8-year-old nephew. This is an engine for resentment-based negative emotions. Such emotions, Kunze and Menges suggest, can then reverberate through the wider organisation, especially – and as established by diversity research – because employees will typically pay more attention to what happens to colleagues who tend to stand out, or in this case, to relationships that deviate from the norm.

Kunze and Menges also asked the leadership of each company to report their recent financial performance, as well as measures of productivity and efficiency. After controlling for company size and efficiency, they found that companies experiencing more negative emotions showed worse performance on all counts. More youthful managers of older subordinates, therefore, contribute to worse company performance through the negative emotions their existence encourages, presumably through sapping morale and enthusiasm for collective effort in the face of so much frustration.

The data revealed a buffer against this harmful outcome, but it’s a bitter pill to ask anyone to swallow: when employees reported that suppressing their emotions was the norm in their organisation, age differentials didn’t lead to more negative emotions in the wider organisation. The researchers reasoned that when emotions are unexpressed, there is no signal to the rest of the workforce that something is up, so they can go about their days in blissful ignorance. But this isn’t to solve the problem, but to distil it into a smaller but more concentrated form, as long-term emotion suppression can lead to depression, damaged health, and impaired cognitive performance, a cruel fate to which to consign these older workers.

But companies shouldn’t “revert to the old workplace with traditional age structures”, say Kunze and Menges, because their research says nothing about the overall benefits of merit-based promotion. However, they do believe the negative repercussions that they’ve revealed should be addressed. One suggestion is to help older subordinates make sense of their feelings and explore whether they can come to terms with them rather than simply suppress them. Another suggestion, which I warmly advocate, is to address the root causes, changing the culture around “career time tables” and addressing issues of hierarchy and voice, so that old-timers, whether managers or not, can share their accrued wisdom and fully participate in the organisations to which they have given for so long.

 

 

People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days A Week, Experts Claim

If you are over 40 and thinking that your ability to focus and remember facts is deteriorating, your work could actually be to blame.

Recent research by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that, whilst working up to 30 hours a week is good for cognitive function in the over 40s, any more than that causes performance to deteriorate.

In fact, those who worked 55 hours a week or more showed worse cognitive impairment than those who were retired or unemployed and didn’t work at all.

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The study looked at 3500 women and 3000 men aged 40 and over, and made them complete cognitive function tests whilst their performance at work was monitored.

Their ability to read words aloud, recite lists of numbers and match letters and numbers in speed trials was monitored throughout the test, known as the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (Hilda). The author of the test, Professor Colin McKenzie, said that both ‘thinking’ and ‘knowing’ were important indicators. Reading tests is the ‘knowing’ part of ability, whilst ‘thinking’ captures memory, abstract and executive reasoning.

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Whilst some intellectual stimulation is thought to be good to retain cognitive function in later life, with brain puzzles such as Sudoku and crosswords credited with sustaining brain power in older people, excessive stimulation works the other way.

Professor McKenzie told The Times that many countries are aiming to raise the retirement age, forcing people to work for longer as they will be unable to claim benefits until later. He believes that the degree of work may have an important bearing on this.

The degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. Work can be a double edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time working long hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions.

He believes that part time work may be beneficial in retaining brain function in middle aged and older people. Should those who can afford to do so reduce their hours, then? And is the type of work you do a factor?

You would think that a job you love which is less stressful would be less damaging on your stress and fatigue levels. The Hilda survey doesn’t look at the type of work and how that affects results, so this is something to bear in mind.

Young business woman relaxing on a floor. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]

 

 

Professor McKenzie reasons, “It’s very difficult to identify the causal effects of the type of work on cognitive functions. People may be selected into certain occupations according to their cognitive abilities.” Certainly, high stress factor jobs with long hours in competitive, demanding fields will play havoc with a person’s health in general.

As most people have to go on working after 40, or even return to work after a break to have a family or for other personal reasons, taking care of your health, maximizing your down time and taking restful holidays becomes more important. Professor McKenzie says that, “Working full time – over 40 hours a week –  is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive function, but it is not maximizing the potential effects of work.”

 

A balance seems to be needed, then, especially as the government are planning to bring in full time work requirements until that age of 67.

What do you think? Do you feel that a reduction in hours would be beneficial?

72 per cent Aussie grandparents couldn’t imagine life without the internet.

Australian grandparents are now swapping their ‘knitting’ for ‘internetting’, with the explosion of smart devices and increased access to fast broadband taking over all aspects of their lives.

According to a new research report commissioned by nbn, the majority of tech-savvy grandparents, or ‘GranTechies’, now couldn’t imagine their life without the internet.

In fact, more than 90 per cent now admit to jumping online every day.

The key findings of the nbn™ GranTechies Report reveal that Aussie grandparents are now using access to fast broadband for tasks including staying in touch with family and friends via email and Skype, online shopping and downloading or streaming video content.

The report also found that grandparents believe themselves to be as tech-savvy as their children and grandchildren, with 59 per cent saying that they are just as internet-smart as their younger counterparts.

Perhaps more importantly, the nbn™ GranTechies Report discovered that using the internet makes Australian seniors feel more educated and purposeful, as well as feeling more connected and less lonely.

This demographic believe it’s important that they upskill and stay up-to-date with tech trends, with more than half saying that they are eager to learn more through online tutorials and with the help of family and friends.

When it comes to online communication, it is Millennial men who are leading the charge when it comes to staying in touch with the older generation via social media.

Forty four per cent in this demographic say they connect with their grandparents using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

According to Nan Bosler, President of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, “Gone are the days where we thought of grandparents as tech dinosaurs – this research shows senior Australians are well and truly riding the tech wave”.

Based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Nan helps other seniors to learn to use the internet, welcoming anyone over the age of 55 but working mainly with people in their late 70s and right up to their 90s.

“The most popular activity is keeping in touch with family and friends,” explains Nan.

“However, seniors also use the internet like everybody else… for shopping, researching family history, taking online courses and buying airline tickets. I even have lots of students who are addicted to YouTube!”

Nan herself has been using computers for many years, initially making the most of technology to upload and publish local history books.

“When the internet arrived it was a new vehicle to upload information about local and Australian history. It was too good to miss because it brings the whole world to your fingertips,” she explains.

Disagreeing with the idea that seniors find it hard to learn new things, Nan explains, “When you’re trying something new you’re going to be hesitant and worried about making a fool of yourself.

Seniors need to learn from their peers and at their own pace but once we gain confidence we are off and running.”

Nan also uses the internet to stay mentally active, having enrolled in an online university course. “You don’t have to travel; you can just enrol and get started”.

While seniors do have to be aware of the dangers of using the internet, Nan would like to see more of her age group using it confidently.

“It’s fabulous for keeping up with the grandkids. Although some of them need to remember to mind their p’s and q’s once Grandma is on social media!” she says.

Nan has been pleased to see that with widespread access to fast broadband via the nbn™ network, the ‘GranTechie’ demographic has been able to move beyond using the internet to simply keep in touch with family and friends and has progressed to becoming a community of more advanced online users that is able to show the younger folk a thing or two.

If your grandparents are eagre to get into the tech game, but aren’t sure how, here are some tips of helping them get started.

 

 

 


A legal action initiated by the Fair Work Ombudsman has resulted in a penalty of $126,540 against a businessman “centrally involved” in a Brisbane cleaning company, the highest ever penalty secured by the FWO against an individual.

In a release, the FWO outlines the penalty against businessman Bijal Girish Sheth, who was involved with Queensland based cleaning company Brisclean Pty Ltd. The penalty was decided in the Federal Circuit Court as a result of action by the FWO.

The case considered whether Sheth was deliberately breaching sham-contracting laws by misclassifying four migrant employees as independent contractors, who were then underpaid. On top of the near-$130,000 penalty, he has been ordered to back-pay the workers $59,878.

Read more: Two businessmen fined over $130,000 in staff wage deductions as four-year long Fair Work case comes to an end

The business paid the workers as little as $17 dollars an hour and did not pay them at all for some work. The court ordered that if Sheth does not comply with the back-pay order, that part of the imposed penalty will be paid to the workers instead, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s release on the case.

Another worker was also misclassified, but due to a lack of records, the amount they were underpaid could not be determined. The affected workers are two Indian visa holders and another three immigrants who are now permanent residents.

As the company was placed into administration last year, the FWO could not pursue penalties against the company. Instead it used the Fair Work Act’s accessorial liability provisions to seek a penalty against Sheth.

Principal lawyer at McDonald Murholme Andrew Jewell told SmartCompany that “section 550 of the Fair Work Act deems that a person ‘involved in’ a breach of the Fair Work Act is taken to have personally breached the Fair Work Act”.

“Accordingly, that person is required to pay compensation and is liable for payment of a penalty.”

This is not the first time Brisclean was warned by the Ombudsman, with the FWO cautioning Sheth about sham-contracting previously. Fifteen other allegations of underpayment were made against the company, according to Fair Work.

Jewell believes the history of complaints would have contributed to the severity of the penalty in a case like this.

“The penalty is so high because of the history of complaints and the seriousness of the conduct,” Jewell says.

“Courts are generally relatively lenient towards accidental breaches or first offences, however deliberate breaches and a continued disregard for the law will result in significant penalties.”

A warning to “rogue operators”

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said in the release that the scale of the penalty should serve as a warning to rogue operators across the nation.

“Even if you liquidate your company, it’s no guarantee of avoiding the consequences of non-compliance with the Fair Work Act,” James said.

“Any rogue business operator who thinks they can short-change workers and get away with it by shutting their company down should think again. We will seek to hold you to account at every available opportunity and you should be aware that we treat exploitation of vulnerable, migrant workers particularly seriously.”

Jewell says it is “common practice” for directors to be named personally, both in cases where the “financial viability of the business in is doubt or where an applicant seeks an additional penalty”.

“This prevents the directors from using a corporation to avoid liability,” he says.

The FWO said in a statement it believes Sheth to be operating the business under a new entity and will be referring the case to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

According to ASIC’s published insolvency notices, four separate applications for winding up orders have been submitted against Brisclean.

James has advised the cleaning industry will “continue to be a priority” for the Fair Work Ombudsman, stating, “Business models that involve exploitation of vulnerable workers are not acceptable and will not be tolerated”.

Jewell believes the nature of the industry attracts workers who do not have comprehensive knowledge of their rights.

“It would appear that the cleaning industry attracts workers without knowledge of their employment rights, such as migrant workers or students,” he says.

Jewell advises businesses wanting to ensure they are paying workers correctly to consult a lawyer or the FWO for guidance.

SmartCompany attempted to contact Brisclean, but was unable to reach the company, and was also unable to contact Sheth.

David Penberthy

October 1, 2016

A MATE of mine who rightly describes himself as a grumpy old man told me a  great grumpy old man joke the other day. It involved a man in his late 50s, recently retrenched, who had typed up a CV for the first time in decades and was being interviewed by a 20-something HR woman at a job placement firm about his qualities as an employee.
“Do you think that you have any weaknesses?” she asked, routinely.
“Probably honesty,” he said.
“I don’t think honesty is a weakness,” she said.
“I don’t give a f–k what you think,” he replied.
Many a true word is said in jest. I like this joke because it goes to the heart of the perception that older workers — or in this bloke’s case, non-workers — are irascible and stuck in their ways. Also, older workers are seen as providing limited return on investment, to use that cliched management term.
Why bother hiring a crotchety know-it-all who might give you a decade of productivity, when you could stump for a bright young thing to shape in your image, and hopefully hold on to for years?
Our economy is at a crossroads, shifting from its reliance on manu-facturing and mining to the new service and data-driven industries.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, our Prime Minister says.
For many people, most of them men aged in their 50s and early 60s, there has never been a more unnerving time to be an Australian — because so many people being squeezed out of jobs are older men.

‘So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young.’

Men who, if sacked, will never work again. The figures are borne out by the depressing statistic that anyone who is retrenched over the age of 55 will spend at least twice as long on the dole as a person under that age. And a 2014 study by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre revealed that 96 per cent of people aged 55 to 59 who were retrenched wound up retiring, even though many were desperate to work again.
So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young. There have been calls to raise the Newstart allowance from $264 a week to $317, a $53-a-week increase that would cost the Budget $7.7 billion.
It’s been pushed by the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Industry Group fearing the current rate is so low that people cannot present themselves properly or travel to look for jobs. I have no way of knowing whether the public agrees with the ACOSS and AIG position. My hunch is that many would be suspicious of the proposed rise, fearing that young people who could be rightly described as bludgers would treat it as their personal payday.
The public view would be different, however, if you asked people to compare the indolent 20-somethings who had never looked for work in his life, and the middle-aged man who had done nothing but work, and who found out last Monday his company was shifting operations to Beijing or Bangalore.
The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock. I agree with that view for younger workers with no dependants, and no interest in working. I am not sure if it is fair for older people who have mortgages, debts, children — and a burning desire to work again.

The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock.
I am not suggesting that every unemployed young person doesn’t want to work. There are some suburbs in Australia where the old blue-collar jobs have gone forever.
But there are plenty of younger people who would not work in an iron lung. Surely the best way to get them off their behinds is with less carrot, and more stick.
One of the more illuminating moments of my journalistic career came about 10 years ago when I was asked to go from editing newspapers to running a news website. You could not have found a team more adept to the digital age, be it writing HTML code, or generating new audiences via social media channels.
Their only weakness, as purported journalists, was that many of them didn’t know what The Dismissal was, how Harold Holt disappeared, or who the hell Harold Holt even was. We had replaced people who were walking encyclopedias with the Wikipedia generation. As a community, we do that every time we sort through the CVs on the basis of age, not to forget perceived grumpiness.

Source: Sun Herald

By Craig Allen

Proposals to further lift the pension age have “terrified” some mature-aged jobseekers, who said they were already struggling to compete for work with candidates decades their junior.

The Federal Government has flagged plans to reintroduce legislation to raise the pension age from the current 65 years and six months, to age 70, by 2035.

But with the pressure on workers to stay in paid employment longer, some have called for bosses to reform their attitudes and find longer-term career paths for their employees.

The National Willing to Work report, recently released by the Australian Human Rights Commission, exposed widespread discrimination against older workers, and the myths that they were “forgetful, inflexible”, and had trouble learning new skills.

Last month former Human Rights Commissioner Susan Ryan told the National Press Club that attitudes must change because there were huge economic benefits in employing mature aged workers.

“The business case for employing older workers is undeniable, yet only relatively few businesses are doing it,” Ms Ryan said.

The report found one in 10 business have a maximum age above which they will not recruit — and the average age was 50.

But it was not just private enterprise at fault, with the Council on the Ageing (COTA) claiming the Federal Government’s recruitment practices, which required candidates to disclose their age, only reinforced the problem.

The report also found:
Individuals who were subject to negative assumptions, stereotypes and discrimination could experience stress, and a decline in physical and mental health;
That some government policies and the operation of some government programs were “not achieving their intended objectives and may be serving as a disincentive to workforce participation”;
A 7 per cent increase in mature-age labour force participation would raise gross domestic product in 2022 by approximately $25 billion;
Employment discrimination against people with disability was “ongoing and systemic”.
COTA ACT executive director Jenny Mobbs said older candidates were too often missing out on jobs.

“The selection panels in the public service can be quite a young group of people, and they don’t want their mum or their dad walking in and taking over in the workforce,” Ms Mobbs said.

“It’s a really complex issue, certainly one where the discrimination’s certainly there.

“If a 35-year-old applies for a job, and a 60-year-old applies for the job, the 35-year-old, particularly in Canberra, will get the job.

“Younger people don’t like to work with older people who’ve got much more experience because they feel threatened.”

Seminars helping older Australians re-enter the workforce

COTA ACT has been holding seminars for older workers trying to re-enter the workforce, including training on how to get interviews and how to compete with much younger candidates.

Participant Tanya Astle said it was common for mature-aged jobseekers to be overwhelmed by the challenges of finding work.

“There’s a lot of frustration in the group with not being able to get work … but what we’ve found in the group that it’s really good to get together to support each other and to vent,” Ms Astle said.

“A lot of us have been out of work because of parenting … and the workforce has zoomed right past us.”
Ms Astle has recently retrained, but admitted being daunted at the prospect of having to start a new career at her age.

“Honestly, it is terrifying. Yes, for me it’s quite nerve-wracking,” she said.

Former senior executive Gloria Loewe, 56, said she had lost track of the numbers of knock-backs she has had in trying to find work.

“I stopped counting … it’s depressing if you start counting,” Ms Loewe said.

And she echoed a similar sentiment of other mature aged workers: that working is about self satisfaction rather than ruthless ambition.

“It’s not so much to make money, or have a position — I already did that,” Ms Loewe said.

“It’s just to keep active, and mainly to be useful to somebody or to yourself, or to society. I feel that I still have a lot to offer.”
Key recommendations from the Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work report included creating a Minister for Longevity, government targets for older worker recruitment, and better education to dispel myths and stereotypes about older employees.

Monday, 01 August 2016

Employers should make flexibility the “default position” for how work is performed to increase the workforce participation of older workers and people with disability, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan says.

Ryan, whose term as Commissioner ends on Wednesday, told a Diversity Council Australia event last week that age and disability discrimination is a “growing problem”, but that turning negative attitudes into positive ones “is not beyond us”.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the issue found that at April 2015 some 27 per cent of people aged over 50 had recently experienced workplace discrimination; and in the previous 12 months, nearly one in 12 Australians with disability reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment.

It also found employers were struggling to find information and support, Ryan said, adding that she was disappointed with employers’ lack of awareness of support services such as JobAccess and the Employee Assistance Fund, which provide organisations with advice and reimbursements for the costs of work-related modifications that help employees with disability.

“Discrimination is costly – it contributes to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, higher staff turnover, and increased recruitment costs, as well as lost business opportunities as a result of abandoning experienced, skilled and corporate knowledge,” she said.

“On the other hand, we also know that organisations that are inclusive and diverse report tangible benefits in terms of productivity, performance and innovation.”

One way to build inclusion and diversity is flexible work, Ryan said, noting that during the inquiry, “virtually every submission and consultation” identified workplace flexibility as an “important element to raise workforce participation”.

“Businesses should seek to normalise flexible work by making flexibility the default position in terms of work location, work hours and job design as far as the role allows,” she said.

In March 2016, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced that all public service jobs would be flexible by 2019 on the basis of “if not, why not”, she said by way of example.

Several other best practice examples are included in a guide released at last week’s event. These include Catholic Homes, which allows for flexibility in shift work; and Commonwealth Bank, which has a number of tools to help managers and employees make flexible arrangements work.

PwC report supports flexibility recommendation
Adding to the evidence that flexible work is good for business, PricewaterhouseCoopers last week released
its Golden Age Index – a weighted average of seven indicators that reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in 34 OECD countries.

The Index shows Australia has improved in the rankings since 2003, moving from 20th place to 16th in 2014. It performs poorly when compared to other Asia-Pacific countries, however, ranking last in the region, and below the US and Canada.

If Australia increased the participation rate of people aged over 55 to match that of Sweden, it could increase its GDP by about 4.7 per cent ($69 billion at 2014 values), according to the Index.

PwC says employers should adopt flexible working policies, such as ‘phased retirement’ or expanded training programs, to support older workers.

“They should also take steps to achieve age diversity, for example through opening up apprenticeship schemes to older workers so that they can capitalise on their experience,” it says.

AccorHotels, for example – which both the PwC report and the AHRC guide refer to as exemplifying best practice – supports older workers by providing them with a work experience and placement program.

The five-day training program involves work health and safety, complaints and feedback, and basic front office services training, and includes two days of on-the-job work experience in their selected department, as well as interviews with the talent and culture team to prepare them for job placement.

Willing to Work – Good practice examples: A resource for employers, AHRC, July 2016

Golden Age Index, PwC, July 2016