Employers urge businesses to 'lure pensioners back' to the workforce

Groups say they 'could help boost' the economy

Employers urge businesses to 'lure pensioners back' to the workforce

Giving pensioners the chance to re-enter the workforce would help solve Australia’s workforce shortage, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said.

ACCI chief executive, Andrew McKellar, said that removing the impediments for pensioners who want to work would be a win-win situation for both older Australian workers and businesses struggling to find staff.

“The wealth of knowledge and experience that our aged pensioners could bring back into our workforce would help close the skills gap and encourage knowledge to be passed to younger workers,” McKellar said.

Support for the re-entry of pensioners

In 2021, the ACCI called on the government to enable more pensioners back into the workforce by allowing them to earn more income without losing benefits.

The business organization further said that around 60% of Australians already support the changes that would grant retirees to work unlimited hours without dropping their pension.

McKellar acknowledged opposition leader Peter Dutton and Treasurer Jim Chalmers for discussing the idea which would help solve workforce shortage and even said he was “heartened” by the approach to consider the said policy.

“The disincentive for aged pension recipients to re-enter the workforce is significant. Currently, a pensioner can earn an average of $480 a fortnight, or $12,840 a year, before their payments are reduced,” he said.

“This is the equivalent of only one day a week at the minimum wage before their pension is reduced, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of at least 50 per cent,” he added.

The ACCI chief executive also said that since the shortage of skills and labour remained the number one challenge facing businesses across the country, it is crucial to address the workforce shortage, or else businesses could not operate at a total capacity and cease to remain internationally competitive.

Pensioners coming out of retirement

A 2022 survey by the National Seniors Australia showed that 16% of age pensioners re-entered the workforce after initially retiring, while another 20% said they would consider returning.

 While the survey showed that income was a primary motivation for many pensioners on returning to work with a total of 60%, many of the older Australians also cited “support for the nation, desire to serve, and help with the workforce shortage” as reasons why they want to work again.

 Andrew Sullivan, managing director of the finance and advisory firm Sullivan Consulting, told Daily Telegraph that currently, many employers are willing to accept retirees wherever possible.

“Employers want people that are experienced and have the skills, and that’s what retirees can offer,” Sullivan said.

For National Seniors Australia CEO, Professor John McCallum, the policy to allow older Australians to return to the workforce would help boost not only the State’s economy but also the lives of the pensioners.

“Our cause is clear and simple,” said McCallum. “The nation is crying out for workers in so many industries, including aged care. Allowing pensioners to work would help these industries, the pensioners, and the Australian economy.”

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