More than a quarter of employees aged 50 and over reported experiencing some form of age-based discrimination in the workplace, a new report by the Human Rights Commission has found.
A survey of 2,109 people shows that 27% of older workers said they were the victim of discrimination on at least one occasion in the last two years. That figure jumps to 41% of low-income earners, defined as those who make $35,000 or less a year.
A much higher ratio of single parents with dependent children (45%) reported age-based discrimination in the workplace than those whose children had left home and those without children.
The most common forms of discrimination include the limiting of employment, promotion or training, the perception that older workers were slow adaptors or have skills that were outdated, and being exposed to ageist jokes or taunts.
“The findings of the first national prevalence survey clearly indicate that age discrimination discourages older workers from remaining in, and re-entering the workforce,” the report said.
“It is particularly concerning that a third of people who had experienced age discrimination gave up looking for work as a result. Almost half began to think about retirement or accessing their superannuation fund.”
The report finds that few people choose to take action against the discrimination, while many leave a job as a result of it.
“Unfortunately there is no surprise [in the findings],” the head of National Seniors, Michael O’Neill, said. “This is confirmation of a problem that has been widely reported.”
O’Neill eschews extra regulation or the implementation of quotas for older workers, saying recognising the value of a diverse workplace through cultural change is more effective.
“These results are a call to action for government, employers and all those who make decisions about the hiring, training and promotion of staff,” the report said.
The federal government is pushing to increase the retirement age to 70 by 2035, and its recent intergenerational report highlighted the economic need for workers to remain in the workplace for longer.
Labor increased the pension age from 65 to 67 when it was in government, but opposes the plan to raise the age to 70.
The Human Rights Commission last week announced that it will hold an inquiry into the obstacles to work faced by older people and people with disability.
The commission will report back on the findings of the inquiry in July 2016.
Article from Guardian