New research reveals discrimination against older workers


The Financial Services Council has today released research which shows older workers are being discriminated against in the workforce at a time when they are finding it hard to build the superannuation they need for retirement.

Conducted by Westfield Wright for the Financial Services Council, the study found almost three in 10 (28 per cent) older workers had experienced discrimination – being made redundant before others the most frequently cited example. Other forms included lack of training/development opportunities, verbal abuse and inflexibility towards health and physical needs.

Discrimination was most acute among mid-managers earning the average Australian wage of $70,000 a year.

While attitudes among employers varied, the study found cost, particularly in the current economic environment, and workplace culture were behind decisions to recruit younger staff.

This was a key concern among older workers who were trying to save as much superannuation as they could before they retired. Close to 50 per cent of over 50-year-olds said they were dissatisfied with the amount they had put aside for their retirement, with more than half of those feeling very concerned.

John Brogden, CEO of the Financial Services Council, said attitudes towards older workers needed to change because Australia was facing an aging population crisis.

“At current trends, by 2050 there will only be 2.7 working Australians for every citizen over 65. Without action, this will have serious implications for the quality of life of every Australian,” Mr Brogden said.

“We need to end the concept of full time work followed by full time retirement. Australians remaining in the workforce for longer periods will stretch retirement incomes by supplementing superannuation through part-time work as well as reduce our nation’s skills shortage.

“However the solution is not a new raft of anti-discrimination laws. Instead, the focus should be on more flexible work practices and finding other paths of employment such as consulting or mentoring to encourage further workforce participation by older workers.

“This study found those companies that did make the effort to engage and retain older workers were able to ease their skills shortages and found older employees to be ‘easier to manage’ and a ‘safe pair of hands’.

“Older workers also need to be flexible and recognise they cannot have it all – the flexible work hours and slower paced job on the same salary as they earned before is unrealistic.”

You must be logged in to post or view comments.