Thursday, May 03, 2012

Australia: Commission Opens Broad Inquiry into Legal Barriers to Labor Force Participation by Older Workers

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released an Issues Paper for its Inquiry into legal barriers to mature age participation in the workforce and other productive work. According to the ALRC, "Grey Areas: Age Barriers to Work in Commonwealth Laws" is intended to form a basis for consultation--to encourage informed community participation by providing background information and highlighting the issues so far identified by the ALRC.
ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said “There is often a complex interaction between things that are ‘barriers’ to workforce participation and things that are ‘incentives’ to leave the workforce. Leaving the paid workforce may also mean people are able to make a valuable contribution in other productive work—like the hugely important role of volunteers in our community.

The ALRC considers that six interlinking principles should guide reform in this area: participation; independence; self-agency; system stability; system coherence; and fairness. One key question we are asking in the Issues Paper is whether there are any other principles that should inform our deliberations. Other questions refer to changes that should be made to remove barriers in the various areas of law under review.”
In addition to this initial "framing" question, ALRC seeks responses to 54 other questions on age pension, income tax, superannuation, social security, family assistance, child support, employment, workers’ compensation and insurance, and migration. Among the employment questions that it raises are:
34. In what ways, if any, can the practices of private recruitment agencies be regulated to remove barriers to mature age employees entering or re-entering the workforce?

38. How does the operation of the modern award system affect mature age employees and in what ways, if any, can modern awards be utilised or amended to account for the needs of mature age employees?

41. Where is it best to include information about occupational health and safety issues relevant to mature age workers?

43. What measures involving regulation and monitoring, if any, should be introduced to ensure (a) employers are responsive to the needs of mature age employees; and (b) mature age employees are actively involved in developing and implementing such measures?

44. What are some examples of employment management best practice aimed at attracting or retaining mature age employees?

46. What other changes, if any, should be made to the employment law framework to remove barriers to mature age participation in the workforce or other productive work?
ALRC has provided an online form to make submissions on its inquiry.

Source: Australian Law Reform Commission Media Release (May 1, 2012)

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