Smart or simple?

Cash for hiring Over 50s. Do you have a point of view?  And importantly what are the facts?

We’ve been unable to ascertain if the $10,000 incentive to hire Over 50s who have been out of work for six months means they must have been registered with Job Services Australia and collecting the dole for six months, or simply not an income earner?

We’ve also been unable to establish whether or not this is a well thought out incentive. What are your thoughts? We got a bit perplexed when we drilled down to look at a couple of scenarios:

  1. Your organisation is paid to hire a top performer (in that case the Government’s a fool – you would have hired them in any case)
  2. You’re paid to hire a second rate performer (now you’re the fool – $10,000 will not make up for a poor performer).

Here is what we do know.

Restart Program
From 1 July 2014, a payment of up to $10,000 will be available to employers who hire a mature age jobseeker (including those on the Disability Support Pension) aged 50 years or over. Payments will commence after the worker has been employed for at least six months and will be paid in the following instalments:

  • $3,000 after six months of employment;
  • $3,000 after 12 months of employment;
  • $2,000 after 18 months of employment; and
  • $2,000 after 24 months of employment.

The Restart Program will build on the Government’s election commitment to introduce a seniors employment incentive payment. The $220.7 million over four years previously announced at the MidYear Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-14 will be redirected to the Restart Program.

Restart — boosting the wage subsidy for mature age job seekers

Expense ($m) 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Department of Employment Related capital ($m) 16.7 79.3 98.1 108.8

Our back-of-the envelope calculations would indicate that the Government expects to have around 5,000 starters in their Restart Program in the first year.

We don’t have all the data for Over 50s, but ABS Statistics tell us that 1.9 million ‘over 55s’ were participating in the labour force in 2010. Also, people aged 55 years and over made up 16% of the total labour force, up from around 10% three decades earlier. If we assume the unemployment rate of 6% can be applied to this number, then there are 114,000 over 55’s unemployed. The unemployment rate for older Australians is also quite low, but this is deceptive as many who can’t find a job drop out of the workforce altogether and so aren’t recorded in unemployment data.

Still, about a third of those aged 55-64 who are unemployed have been unemployed for a year or more.  And 5,000 might be picked up in the first year of the Restart Program, growing to 13,500 in the final year. It’s a start.

What’s your point of view?

Geoff Slade

Geoff Slade has worked at the forefront of the Recruitment industry for over 50 years. He is the Executive Chairman of Slade Group and was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to the industry.

Geoff Slade
Executive Chairman
Slade Group
Level 10, 333 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100

Posted in The world @work
2 comments on “Smart or simple?
  1. Bill Ellerton says:

    There is no doubt that mature workers (which the ABS defines as those over 45) have a much tougher time finding a job than those under 45. This is particularly the case for less qualified and/or less skilled workers.

    You indicate that the official 6% unemployment rate is deceptive, but I would suggest that the word deceptive is nowhere near strong enough. Based on anecdotal evidence we believe that the unemployment rate for those over 55 is probably closer to 18-20%. This is the age at which people can access some of their super and do so after becoming despondent about not being able to find a job after perhaps being laid off after 35-40 years in the workforce. Not only is this terribly sad for the individual who runs down their super before they should have to, it is an incredible waste of an experienced and valuable human resource. In the case of less qualified and skilled workers they may not have any super to draw on and can end up living a life of poverty and desperation on the dole.

    Our understanding of this comes from some of the research we did before launching a niche job search website recently. Mature Job Search is targeted at mature aged workers – those over 45, not specifically seniors or the elderly, though we are more than happy to help them too. In less than 4 weeks we have attracted almost 6,000 Facebook followers and hundreds of registered job seekers – in itself demonstrating the demand for jobs by people in this age group.

    In terms of the question about whether the $10,000 handout for hiring someone over 50 is well thought out. Clearly not – it appears to have been a thought bubble. Perhaps the treasurer or someone saw one of our Tweets about mature age unemployment. We are pretty much ambivalent about the idea but believe there are a number of less costly options that would help stamp out AGEISM in the workplace.

    1. Require all organisations employing more than 200 people to report both age and gender dispersion on a regular basis and have a publically available plan as to how they intend to address the issue (or genuine reasons why they can’t). This move would also help very young workers.
    2. State Governments remove the tax on jobs (payroll tax) on all workers over fifty five as the first step of a longer term plan to get rid of this stupid tax on jobs altogether.
    3. Employers to look at creating more flexible work arrangements for mature workers – it has to a small extent been done for those returning from maternity leave etc so it can be achieved. Many mature workers would love to work 2 or 3 days each week rather than 5 yet often such jobs aren’t available.
    • Geoff Slade Geoff Slade says:

      Bill, you make some really interesting observations and I hope you can gain a hearing in Canberra for your recommended solutions to addressing the underemployment in the over 50s demographic.

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