Fair go closer for older workers

With older Australians increasingly concerned that greater longevity means their retirement savings may not go the distance, working longer becomes part of the mindset. That’s where ageism has long been an issue.

However, a survey of more than 900 human resource professionals conducted by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and the Australian Human Rights Commission has found employers’ attitudes are slowly changing.

The proportion of employers who said they were happy to hire older workers has increased from eight per cent in 2014 to 28 per cent in 2018, which is positive news for the 34.3 per cent of YourLifeChoices members who told us in the 2018 Retirement Matters Survey that they worked full-time, part-time or casually. However, the report noted that up to 30 per cent of employers are still reluctant to take on workers over 50.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson said while it was deeply concerning that some employers were still reluctant to hire people over 50, it was encouraging to see progress.

“Age discrimination in employment is tied to damaging, dated and inaccurate ideas about older workers,” she said. “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.

“As we live longer and healthier lives, it is crucial for people to be able to contribute through the paid workforce, which is not only good for the economy and workplaces but also contributes to a sense of meaning and purpose for individuals.”

The Employing Older Workers study also found:

  • A majority (63 per cent) of respondents classify an older worker as 61, an upward shift since 2014.
  • More than one in three respondents (34 per cent) believe there is no difference between older and younger workers’ technology skills and abilities, 14 per cent more than in 2014.
  • Fifty-eight per cent of the sample group expect to retire at 66 or older (compared with 42 per cent in 2014), and 20 per cent expect to retire at 71 or older (16 per cent in 2014).
  • Flexible work is the top reason respondents say that would encourage them to remain in the workforce.
  • Respondents indicate the main advantages of recruiting older workers are the experience they bring (76 per cent) and the professional knowledge they have acquired (68 per cent).


While half of YourLifeChoices survey respondents said they worked for the money, sense of purpose (33 per cent) and social engagement (24.5 per cent) were also important.

Have you noted a change in employers’ attitude to older people? Has it encouraged you to continue to work?

Related articles:
Older Australians on ageism
Fast learners
Working and the Age Pension

Janelle Ward
Janelle Wardhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/janellewa
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.
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