Joe Hockey has signalled in his firmest way yet that the coming budget is going to provide greater support for people over 50 who want to work longer, potentially looking for ways to incentivise them to stay in the workforce and reward employers for their support of older workers in a more effective way than the current program allows.
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In this weekend’s Weekend Australian, he has acknowledged that an overhaul of the Restart Program is likely to be on offer along with the possible implementation of a lump sum reward program if they stayed in work and deferred the age pension. It is a clearly going to be a budget that makes a serious an attempt to give workers an incentive to put off retirement and say thankyou to those who appreciate older workers in their companies. The current Restart program proves difficult for many employers to access viably, with them eligible for $3000 of funding six months after they employ an older worker, and $7000 in stages for the remainder of a two year period of employment. There is talk these payments may change in shape and that access may be more upfront. And to qualify for these incentives, an employee has to have been on income support or the pension for over 6 months prior.
There is hope that greater flexibility can be seen in this program making it more accessible for the employment of anyone over 50, not just the longer term unemployed.
The Government released a report last week that showed workplace discrimination was rife across Australia with more than 25% of Australians over 50 feeling like they had been discriminated against for their age.
In news reports, there is apparent consideration for the revival or metamorphosis of the old Pension Bonus Scheme which was abolished for new entrants in 2009, but offered a lump sum of up to $49,000 to those who delayed their retirement after 65 and therefore were not imposing themselves on the public funding model until later in life. Something that rewards continued workplace involvement would certainly make it more appealing for those who have to work, and those who want to work, to do so longer in their retirement years.
Tell us today, are you happy to see this pledge of support for older workers?