One in three employers discriminate on basis of age

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One in three employers discriminate on basis of age

Government survey findings show almost a third of Australian employers break the law by setting an age limit for job applicants.

Government survey findings show almost a third of Australian employers break the law by setting an age limit for job applicants.

The newly released Employing Older Workers report from the Australian Human Rights Commission found that two thirds of employers who said they had a maximum age they were willing to recruit to, would not employ people over 50.

This was despite two thirds of all respondents also acknowledging that the loss of older workers had led to a loss of skills and corporate knowledge in their company.

“At age 50 many workers are still optimising what they have to offer employers after several decades of honing skills” said Ian Yates, chief executive of COTA Australia, the leading national advocate for older Australians.

Mr Yates said that while the report showed the situation had improved since 2014, when almost 71 per cent of employers said they had age restrictions, the findings were still an indictment of far too many employers.

“While there has been an improvement over the past four years, it’s scandalous that one in three employers discriminate on the basis of age, which is not only ageist and prejudiced, it’s illegal,” Mr Yates said.

“The report shows that employers recognise the value of the experience older workers 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 the job – and this is all illegal under the Age Discrimination Act – who is letting them off the hook?"

'Stop the rot'


Mr Yates said the report reinforced the imperative for the government to further beef up the programs it announced in the May Budget to increase workplace participation for older Australians.

“We need programs that incentivise employment of older workers, support their retraining and encourage flexible career development, and a government that is also prepared to punish employers who act illegally against federal law and international conventions," he said.

“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. It’s time to stop the rot and change the culture."
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