Many older Australians struggle to find work once they reach their 50s and 60s, despite the fact that it is illegal for companies to specifically discriminate against candidates due to their age.
However a shocking new report, published by the Australian Human Rights Commission, has found that many companies are doing just that as it revealed that 30 per cent of Aussie employers are breaking the law by enforcing an age limit for job applicants, with two thirds of those then admitting they draw the line at employing anyone over the age of 50.
“At age 50 many workers are still optimising what they have to offer employers after several decades of honing skills,”Ian Yates, Chief Executive of COTA Australia, said. “It’s scandalous that one in three employers discriminate on the basis of age, which is not only ageist and prejudiced, it’s illegal.
“Tens of thousands of mature, well qualified Australians are still being ruled out on the basis of their age, before they even have the chance to demonstrate they have the skills, experience and ability to the job – and this is all illegal under the Age Discrimination Act – who is letting them off the hook?”
The findings also highlighted a need for greater training within organisations on how to manage staff from different generations with just eight per cent of the 675 respondents surveyed reporting that their line managers are trained accordingly.
Positively though, the newly released Employing Older Workers report also revealed that 63 per cent of all respondents acknowledged that they lose valuable skills and corporate knowledge with the departure of older workers. It also revealed that employers value the experience that older workers bring (76 per cent) and the professional knowledge they have acquired (68 per cent).
With one third of employers reluctant to hire older workers, this leaves many senior Australians out of work with no option but to sign up to Newstart until they reach the age of eligibility for the Age Pension. Recent statistics shared exclusively with Starts at 60 showed older Aussies are spending far longer on the dole than unemployed people in their 20s, debunking the “myth” that Newstart is a young person’s payment.
The findings, collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and analysed by The Benevolent Society, revealed that there were 174,532 Aussies aged 55 to 64 signed on, compared to 156,664 between the ages of 25 and 34.
While there are more older Aussies simply in receipt of the benefit, the data also showed that unemployed Australians, aged 60-64, remain on the unemployment benefit for an average of 187 weeks before signing off, compared to 104 weeks for those aged 25-29.
And, whereas ‘signing off’ for younger generations means the recipient has landed a job, in many cases with older Aussies the ceasing of payments can often be explained by a transition to the Age Pension, after reaching the age of 65.
Yates added: “It means that people Australians over 50 are either being forced onto Newstart unemployment benefit or going into poverty as they erode their lifetime savings, because the system is stacked against them. It also means that as a nation we are missing out on the untold skills, experience and knowledge of 34 per cent of the population.”