The retirees clocking back into work for friendship, fulfilment, and financial gains

Oct 16, 2023
Those choosing to return to work are allocating their supplementary income to a variety of pursuits, including travel, home improvements, and the coverage of essential expenses and bills. Source: Getty Images.

An increasing number of elderly Australians are postponing their retirement dreams, opting instead to return to work. In doing so, they are discovering not only companionship and a renewed sense of accomplishment but also a practical way to navigate the challenges posed by the rising cost of living.

A recent survey conducted by the online marketplace Fiverr shed light on the attitudes of Australians aged 60 and above. It revealed that one in every ten individuals has chosen to reenter the workforce after retiring, with an additional 13 per cent seriously considering this option.

Among the 1,011 participants in the study, over 70 percent saw part-time or occasional work as a means to bolster their superannuation and better manage the ever-rising costs of living, including the soaring expenses related to petrol, energy, insurance, and rent.

While financial incentives are undoubtedly appealing, not all retirees are motivated solely by money when contemplating a return to work. A notable percentage seeks the satisfaction of purpose and accomplishment, as well as the opportunity to foster social connections.

Furthermore, older Australians are allocating their supplementary income to a variety of pursuits, including travel, home improvements, and the coverage of essential expenses and bills.

COTA chief executive Patricia Sparrow explained that “reasons for wanting to stay in, or return to, work can vary greatly, but there’s little doubt that for some, the decision to delay retirement could be driven by concerns about cost of living.”

These findings coincide with recent changes allowing age pension recipients to work more hours without affecting their pension payments.

The changes were part of the government’s Employment White Paper and aim to support older Australians who want to work more while ensuring their age pension remains intact. The new measures are also expected to address the nation’s growing skills and labour shortages.

The changes include:

  • permanently enhancing the Work Bonus for pensioners over the Age Pension age and eligible veterans by providing new entrants with a starting income bank balance and retaining the higher Work Bonus maximum cap to provide more choice and flexibility to participate in the workforce.
  • doubling the employment income nil rate period to close to six months (12 fortnights) to reduce barriers for income support recipients to take up work by allowing them to retain concession cards and other supplementary benefits for a longer period when they first get back into employment.

The increase to the Work Bonus income bank was temporarily introduced after last year’s Jobs and Skills Summit. 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the new measures are “about putting the right incentives in place to get more Australians into work”.

“We want to make sure the stepping stones are in place to enable more Australians to take up a job or work more hours,” Chalmers said.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth highlighted that the changes “will ensure pensioners know they are supported and rewarded if they choose to work”.

“Around 195,000 people commence on the Age Pension each year and will benefit from the $4000 Work Bonus starting balance. If these pensioners choose to take up work or work more their earnings will have less of an impact on their pension,” Rishworth said.

“Extending the length and expanding eligibility for the employment income nil‑rate period will help smooth the transition from income support to employment and we hope will result in more people getting back into work and staying in jobs for longer, without the fear that the safety net won’t be there if they need it again.”

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