The federal government has announced that from 1 July it will pay $1,000 to businesses which employ someone over the age of 50 for at least three months.
Treasurer Wayne Swan announced yesterday that over the next four years, $35m will be ploughed into the scheme to ensure older people are kept in the workforce. “What we are going to do is to work with the business community to encourage them to hire more mature aged Australians. The labour force participation rate of mature aged Australians is lower here than it is elsewhere in the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development]. We need to lift that up and we need to unlock that enormous potential,” Swan told ABC Radio.
The bonus is part of the government’s response to the Economic Potential of Senior Australians report it commissioned earlier this year. The “Jobs Bonus” initiative will pay the $1,000 payments to 10,000 employers – the only conditions being that the worker must be over 50 and retained for at least three months. Priority will be given to employers who take part in the “corporate champions” program, which encourages high-profile companies to employ older workers.
While the scheme has achieved bipartisan support, not everyone in the business community is convinced it will affect hiring decisions. “I don't think it's going to be a game changer. I think if you're going to hire somebody who happens to be over 50 then you'd probably be grateful for the $1,000, particularly if there's a bit of retraining that's required in order to do that. But I can't see it influencing you to hire somebody that you weren't otherwise going to hire. Which I think is sort of the idea behind the scheme,” Stephen Cartwright from the New South Wales Business Chamber said.
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