Your rights in transition

Help is at hand for mature workers as they negotiate their workplace exit.

Your rights in transition

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

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


    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Jan 2015
    "What was that again Sonny?" "I'll get My ear Trumpet"
    22nd Jan 2015
    Unlawful age discrimination starts at 40.
    22nd Jan 2015
    what about unpaid carers who care for families ?? where is our right to be recognised as workers?? our right to the same pay etc as other workers where is any one willing to fight for our rights?? where is WHS ?? where is anything or anyone to help carers we are workers
    22nd Jan 2015
    P.S while carers are paid 1.50 an hour by the govt they are exempt from all forms of discrimination legislation so now what do carers do ??
    22nd Jan 2015
    Become a qualified aged care worker and then comply with all legislation and get coverage as a paid worker.

    Even people working from home have to do that and evidence of compliance is kept on your employee file. So if you fall downstairs because you were wearing your PJs, dressing-gown and slippers and tripped over the dressing-gown cord, it would be your fault because you were not compliant with WHS whilst you were (or meant to be) working.

    You can't have it all ways tisme.
    22nd Jan 2015
    In the majority of Asian and European countries. Living and caring for older or infirm members of the family is part of their culture. It is also done out of love for your own. I am glad to acknowledge that not all carers look for financial reward to care for their charges let alone expect the taxpayer to pay you to look after your loved ones.
    24th Jan 2015
    I was told tht I didnt deserve a job as anyone over 40 doesnt need a job unless they have children at home as they dont need income. Funny how the bills still keep coming in and I still need medicines that I cant afford to buy even with concession prescription. Somehow I was told that wasnt age discrimination even when I was made redundant so younger person who deserved to have a job could have my position.Funny they only lasated a fortnight and then quit
    13th Mar 2015
    Well they will be put to the test with the case of BHP Billiton V the two senior service employers later ine month.
    8th Jul 2016
    MP are the only former employees who get payed a form of pension and other perks has I cannot fined one other former employee were their company continues to pay them for life after they have left the business.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles