Help is at hand for mature workers as they negotiate their workplace exit.
Help is at hand for mature workers as they negotiate their workplace exit, says Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.
Too often older Australians who are still working, feel unable to initiate a discussion with their employer about their eventual retirement, for fear of unwanted repercussions. Some may feel forced into retirement or may be worried that they will be denied work opportunities once the subject of retirement is broached. Such experiences can constitute unlawful age discrimination, and they do occur in some Australian workplaces.
Discussing the transition to retirement with your employer can assist you and your employer to plan for the future. However, it is essential to fully understand your rights beforehand.
Age discrimination in the workplace occurs if a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their age. Age discrimination also occurs indirectly when there is a rule or policy which is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular age.
Examples of age discrimination in employment include:
- being refused training, promotion or other opportunities by an employer because it is assumed an employee will retire soon
- older employees being targeted for redundancies
- the use of restructure practices to demote mature age workers.
Older workers now have the right to request flexible work arrangements, such as phased retirement. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth), many workers over 55 can ask their employer for a change in working arrangements. Employers may only refuse on reasonable business grounds.
If you feel that you have experienced discrimination, you may want to deal with the situation by raising it directly with the person or people involved, or with a supervisor or manager. You may also make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
At the AHRC, approximately two-thirds of the age discrimination complaints we received last year were about discrimination in employment. A high proportion of these complaints were resolved by the Commission through a conciliation process.
Older people have the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace and should be able to continue working without being discriminated against because of their age.
For more information, contact the Department of Human Services, Centrelink, Older Australians. Phone 13 23 00 or visit www.humanservices.gov.au.
You may like to read the Australian Human Rights Commission’s guide Your Rights at Retirement. Limited stocks of hard copies are available.
If you experience age discrimination, you can make a complaint to the AHRC. Complaints are confidential and free of charge. Phone 1300 656 419 or email email@example.com.
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