Home | News | It’s time to “stop the rot” when it comes to older worker employment

It’s time to “stop the rot” when it comes to older worker employment

Over 50? Just under a third of Australian employers are reluctant to hire you.

That’s according to a survey of more than 900 human resource professionals, conducted by the Australian HR Institute and supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

It’s not all bad news for older Australians. Age discrimination commissioner Dr Kay Patterson said while it was deeply concerning that some employers were still reluctant to hire people over 50, the report revealed some improvements in attitudes – more hirers indicated they had “no reluctance to employ older workers”.

The jump in that attitude was considerable. Only 8 per cent of respondents felt that way in 2014 but in the 2018 report, that figure rose to 28 per cent.

Patterson said age discrimination in employment is tied to damaging, dated and inaccurate ideas about older workers. “It is heartening to see the age at which people define ‘older’ has shifted upwards to 61 years or more and that more recruiters don’t see age as a barrier,” Patterson said.

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said despite the improvements in hirer’s attitudes, the findings are still an indictment of far too many employers.

“Let’s not pussy foot around – it’s illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of their age but the government is letting a third of Australia’s employers do it without sanction – and we suspect some of those employers are government agencies,” Yates said.

“The report shows that employers recognise the value of the experience older works bring (76 per cent) and the professional knowledge they possess (68 per cent), and more respondents across all categories said there was no difference between the generations at work, with a 14 per cent increase in people indicating no difference between older and younger workers on technology skills and abilities.

“Despite this, 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 do the job – and this is all illegal under the Age Discrimination Act – who is letting them off the hook?”

Yates called on government to further strengthen the programs it announced in this year’s Budget to increase workplace participation for older Australians.

“On these figures Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be struggling to find an employer to take him on if he loses the next Federal election – the odds are they won’t want him because he’s over 50,” Yates said.

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