25 September 2023

Ageism survey finds discrimination old hat

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A survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Human Rights Institute (AHRI) has revealed that almost a third of Australia’s employers were still discriminating against workers based on their age.

The survey of more than 900 human resource professionals found that up to 30 per cent of Australian employers were reluctant to hire workers over a certain age, and for more than two thirds of that group, the age was more than 50.

However, the survey found there was an increasing trend in respondents reporting definitely no reluctance to employ older workers (28 per cent in 2018, up from eight per cent in 2014).

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Kay Patterson said that 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,” Dr Patterson 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,” she said.

“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 contributes to a sense of meaning and purpose for individuals.”

Chief Executive of AHRI, Lyn Goodear said the demographic group leaving the workforce in significant numbers at present was largely made up of the cohort born in the years after World War II.

“That is a disproportionately large cohort, yet only 21 per cent of respondents to this study report their organisation engages in phased retirement practices as a way to manage the loss of intellectual capital,” Ms Goodear said.

The 22-page survey report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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