Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Australia: Employment Discrimination against Older Workers on the Decline

The Financial Services Council has issued a report showing that discrimination towards older workers is on the decrease in Australia. According to "How Older Workers are Valued: Results of the National Survey on Attitudes to Older Workers," Australian employers are viewing older workers as a more reliable source of skills and experience despite pressures from the broader economy. In particular, the report finds that only 18% employees between 50 and 75 said they were discriminated against on the grounds of age, down from 28% a couple years ago.

Among other key findings in the report:
  • 66% of older workers want to keep working regardless of their financial situation;
  • 39% of older workers want more flexibility in hours and remuneration;
  • 67% of older workers have been offered training or upskilling by their employers;
  • 41% of older workers believe they should be paid more than younger employees based on their skills and knowledge, 43% said they should be paid about the same.
Source: Financial Services Council Media Release (April 28, 2014)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Australia: Study Finds Governments Not Doing Enough To Hire Older Workers

According to a study using Australian Bureau of Statistics and Census data, both federal and state governments in Australia lag well behind the private sector when it comes to employing older workers. In "Past, present and future of mature age labour force participation in Australia," the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre highlights variations in rates of aging and mature age participation across the country.

National Seniors points in particular to a marked decline in the proportion of people aged 60 and over employed by governments, noting that around 16.4% of men aged 50 to 59 work across national, state and local bureaucracies, but this falls to 12.7% for men in their 60s, while women drop from 24.2% in their 50s to 20.1%. In contrast, private sector employment actually increases as people age.

According to National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill, “[t]he public service should represent the gold standard in hiring and retaining mature age staff. Instead, public servants aged over 60 are a rare breed across the country....When it comes to employing senior Australians, governments, both federal and state, get a big ‘F’”.

The report concludes that an aging workforce underscores the importance of addressing the barriers to mature age employment from age limits on workers compensation to discriminatory recruitment practices. In addition, the projected decline in the overall growth in labor supply over the next 30 years underscores the need for governments, industry and employers to recognize the importance of ongoing mature age participation.

Source: National Seniors Press Release (April 17, 2014)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

EBRI Reports that Women are Driving Increased Labor Participation by Workers 55 and Over in the U.S.

According to an EBRI report, older workers (those 55 and older) are a growing presence in the U.S. work force, a trend
driven mainly by women. The April 2014 EBRI Notes—"Labor-force Participation Rates of the Population Ages 55 and Older, 2013"—finds that the labor-force participation rate for those ages 55 and older rose throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, and that, for those aged 55–64, the upward trend was driven almost exclusively by the increased labor-force participation of women. For men, the participation rate was flat to declining. For workers 65 or older, participation rates increased for both men and women.

EBRI attributes the upward trend in labor-force participation to workers’ current need for continued access to employment-based health insurance, as well as for the need for more years of earnings to accumulate savings in defined contribution plans and/or to pay down debt. It also notes that "[m]any Americans also want to work longer, especially those with more education for whom more meaningful jobs are available that can be performed into older ages."

The EBRI report is less clear about how differing participation rates affect the generations. Thus, younger workers’ labor-force participation rates increased when that of older workers declined or remained low during the late 1970s to the early 1990s. However, as younger workers’ rates began to decline in the late 1990s, those for older workers continuously increased. "Consequently, it appears either that older workers filled the void left by younger workers’ lower participation, or that higher older-worker participation limited the opportunities for younger workers or discouraged them from participating in the labor force."

Source: EBRI Press Release (April 16, 2014)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Netherlands: OECD Report Calls for Greater Efforts Encouraging More People To Work Later in Life

The Netherlands must encourage more people to work later in life in order to help it meet its growing challenges of a rapidly aging population and rising social spending, according to the OECD. In its report "Ageing and Employment Policies: Netherlands 2014: Working Better with Age," the OECD says that while reforms over the past decade, such as raising the pension age, have already had an impact—so that the share of 55-64 year olds in work has increased significantly to just over 60% in 2013 (above the OECD average of 55%)—the Netherlands remains well behind the best OECD achievers, ranking only 16th for the employment rate of 55-64 year olds among the 34 OECD countries.

Among its recommendations, the OECD says the Netherlands should:
  • promote longer contribution periods in second-pillar pension schemes and increase flexibility in withdrawal and combinations of pension and work to encourage longer careers;
  • reduce the maximum duration of unemployment insurance benefits combined with better activation of all unemployment benefit recipients;
  • keep replacement rates (the ratio of benefits to former earnings) of sickness and disability benefit well below 100%, and give access to wage-compensation already in the sickness benefit period for re-entry to new jobs with a lower wage;
  • ensure that new practices among innovative firms in the Sustainable Employability program are promoted and progressively become national standards;
  • mobilize more fully labor resources by supporting initiatives to facilitate working on a full-time basis for part-time workers.
Source: OECD News Release (April 16, 2014)

Update: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands Press Release (April 16, 2014)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Research: Governments Need To Restructure Deferred Retirement Plans To Encourage Retention of Employees

A University of Missouri researcher concluded has that states may need to restructure deferred retirement incentives to encourage more employees to remain on the job longer and minimize the disruption to government operations. Using, as a case study, the state of Missouri’s Deferred Retirement Option Provision (BackDROP), Angela Curl, assistant professor in the University of Missouri School of Social Work, looked at how the large numbers of possible retirees—in Missouri, more than 25% of all active state employees will be eligible to retire by 2016—threaten the continuity, membership and institutional histories of the state government workforce.
Curl said that a good system of employee retention is inclusive, flexible and accounts for the wide range of circumstances that retirement-eligible employees may consider when deciding to defer retirement. These circumstances could include caregiving for older parents or having a spouse who is retired. In Missouri, BackDROP offers a one-time payment equaling 90 percent of what employees would have received in benefits for an additional five years of service as incentive to delay retirement.
Curl said that “[e]mployers need to ask if their organizations are designed to promote turnover or promote retention. . . . States should recognize the benefits of promoting retention. Using delayed retirement incentives to encourage retention is important, particularly when dealing with older employees.”

A paper—“A case study of Missouri’s deferred retirement incentive for state employees”—co-authored by Kirsten Havig, will appear in the Journal of Aging and Social Policy`. Among other things, the study also found that social demographics such as race, sex, level of education and marital status did not play a significant role in an employee’s decision to defer retirement.

Sources: University of Missouri News Release (April 3, 2014); Columbia Business Times "MU researcher examines options for aging workforce" (April 8, 2014)