Older Australians are being forced out of the workforce before they’re ready and many face discrimination when trying to secure work later in life, a new report has found.
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says a policy overhaul is needed to help entice employers into hiring over-55s, many of whom intend to work well past the official retirement age, but struggle to hold down a job in the face of a new generation entering the workforce.
The Institute says “mature age workers search twice as long for work and are less likely to be offered training on the job”. They are also often forced to leave their jobs because of a lack of flexible employment options.
Data recorded in 2015 shows that nearly a quarter of Aussies intend to work until they’re 70, compared to just 8 per cent in 2005.
The rising cost of living and the relatively small amount of pension handed to eligible seniors each month has forced many older Aussies make the difficult choice between retiring or staying on the job.
Those who choose to supplement part-time work with a part pension are limited to earning $300 per fortnight for a couple, and $168 for a single, according to the Department of Human Services.
This means that for some people it is more economically viable to quit their jobs and pinch their pennies on a full pension instead.
However, the pension itself doesn’t allow much of a lavish life of retirement. Recent reports have shown that the pension is not enough to meet the cost of living.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard sets the minimum annual income required for a ‘comfortable’ retirement lifestyle for a couple at $60,063 and $43,695 for a single.
The RAI is recommending Australia adopt policies similar to those in Spain, France and Denmark that offer lucrative cash incentives and awards to businesses that hire older workers.
“The Federal Government’s recently announced Career Transition Assistance Program trials are aimed at supporting older workers to access training,” they said.
“This new Program complements the existing Restart wage subsidy encouraging businesses to hire workers over 50. While this is a positive start, the diversity of regional labour forces suggests a wider policy package is required to enact substantial change.”