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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Jobs rate strengthens case for Seniors to return to workforce

Latest ABS job vacancy figures show 470,900 vacancies across all sectors, with a concerning increase in health and social assistance job vacancies.  

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke said the quarterly figures reveal a worrying increase particularly affecting the care sector with more than a third of businesses (33.4%) reporting vacancies.  

“The 74,300 job vacancies in this sector highlights the desperate need for nurses, childcare, home care, residential care, and disability care workers. It strengthens the case to let pensioners work and help fix these shortages,” Mr Henschke said.  

“With today’s release of job vacancies more and more people are asking, ‘Why won’t the government just let pensioners work?’

“Our research shows almost 20% of pensioners are considering returning to work from retirement but under the current rules they risk losing $0.50 in the dollar from their pension and pay tax on top.”   

National Seniors wants a New Zealand style policy where pensioners work as much as they want and simply pay tax on their total income. It’s simpler, rewards those who need to work and encourages participation.   

To support their call, National Seniors commissioned Deloitte to model the costs and benefits of an opt in full exemption from the income test. They found the policy would be cost neutral if only 8.3% more pensioners were mobilised to re-enter the workforce, work longer or more hours. Beyond this it is revenue positive.  

Mr Henschke said it is vital government acts decisively to mobilise workers, particularly given the latest shortage in the care sector. 

“We can’t just tinker at the edges, as is being proposed with changes to the Work Bonus limit, we need full throttle policy change,” he said.  

“The government must act quickly, clearly, and decisively to send a signal to pensioners and veterans they’re needed, valued and free to keep working, re-enter the workforce or work more.  

“It would also help end ageism and put our older workforce participation rate up there with NZ, Sweden, USA, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, where older people are seen as an asset not a liability.  

“If the government in its upcoming budget adopted our proposal, we would take a giant step forward in ending ageism and solving the workforce crisis particularly in the care sector.”   

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