Call to remove barriers for older workers

The age thresholds that apply to workers compensation, income insurance and to professional licences should be dismantled to prevent millions of older Australians being locked out of the workforce, a new report on age discrimination says.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has this afternoon released Working Past Our 60s, a discussion paper on reforming workplace laws and policies for older workers.

In 1901, only 4 per cent of Australians were aged 65 or over.

A 2010, an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey found the proportion of people aged 65 or over had risen to 13.5 per cent — and by 2041 was projected to rise to 23 per cent.

Other ABS research in the same year found that there were 58,100 Australians who were unemployed and aged over 55 who had been looking for work for more than six months, much longer than unemployed people who were younger.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan, a minister in the Hawke and Keating governments, said Australia had been slow to act on ensuring older workers remained in a job.

“Most of us want to work past our 60s, but we need to be able to do this in safety and security,” Ms Ryan said in the report, launched in Melbourne today by Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten.

The report recommends the removal of age caps or age cut-off points to workers compensation, income insurance and superannuation.

Most of Australia’s workers compensation schemes contain an age limit at which workers are no longer covered by the income replacement component of the scheme.

“State and territory governments should now review the age limits on their workers compensation schemes, with the view to removing them,” the report says.

The age caps in some workers compensation schemes were “an anachronism that should be addressed as soon as possible”, it says.

The report also recommends removing superannuation guarantee age limits for those working in their 70s and beyond.

Workers over the age of 75 are not eligible to make concessional contributions into their superannuation fund.

Click here to see the report.

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