Mature age workers particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 job losses


mature workers affected most by covid-19 job losses

Workplace

By Guest Author

Federal and State governments are being urged to protect the mature workers who are especially vulnerable to job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Suggestions are for the government to continue to pay a higher weekly benefit to mature workers or lower the aged pension age due to the increased competition now for jobs.

Gold Coast Community Issues lawyer, Bruce Simmonds, says he’s had calls from mature age workers dumped from their jobs as firms shut down or retrench due to Covid-19 and this has led to more unemployed people competing for fewer jobs.

Mr Simmonds, a workplace compensation lawyer with Gold Coast firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers, says the coronavirus panics have highlighted the plight of mature age workers vulnerable to exploitation by hard-nosed employers who sack them if they complain. 

An issue nobody wants to admit?

Mr Simmonds says he’s highlighting an issue nobody wants to admit to but says every year he has multiple claims or inquiries from mature age workers dumped from their jobs.

“Too often our mature workers are exploited and mistreated by employers and sadly the coronavirus upheavals have been used as an excuse by some employers to either dump staff or exploit them,”.

Age discrimination in the workforce is as rampant and cruel as ever and he feels 2020 holds no apparent relief for mature age workers who feel they are treated like a slave class of worker.

“I have had quite a number of clients all late 50s or in their 60s, made redundant from previous jobs and needing to stay in the workforce. There are agencies that score thousands of dollars in government incentives to place these people in new jobs but too often the new jobs are a nightmare for the worker,” he says.

He knows of local companies hiring older workers but privately paying bare minimum wages and imposing unfair working conditions.

Older workers have the least rights

“If the worker complains, they are sacked or threatened with the sack, knowing it can be hard for older workers to find a new job. Intimidation is used to silence them. Older workers are the people with the least rights in the workforce and generally the unions can’t or won’t do anything to help them.

“Part of the problem is the mindset of younger bosses who can’t relate to older workers or have little respect for them,” he said.

Mr Simmonds says distressed clients say they are often treated with disrespect by younger bosses, or given menial tasks either to persuade them to resign or because the boss did not trust them with more responsibility.

“It’s tragic because mature age workers can be a golden asset for an employer. They have a long term work ethic, tremendous workplace experience and a professional attitude to their job. They could teach their bosses a thing or two about personnel management,” he says.

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“This Covid 19 crisis and especially the unorthodox working from home arrangements hastily put in place for many businesses really illustrates how some younger bosses are really unqualified to administer older workers”. 

Mr Simmonds says there has been a noticeable increase in compensation claims from older workers claiming unfair dismissal.

“The age group for such claims now is much older. In the past you’d see them for 30-40 year olds, now it’s people in their late 50s and 60s. 

“Because of age and injury they’re the first to go in a shakeup. Also mature workers sometimes have injuries just starting to show because of age aggravation of pre-existing degenerative conditions. The older we are the less we bounce.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing instances where employers just dump anyone perceived as a liability to the business. Rather than respect mature age workers and draw on their wide experience and knowledge base, they are too often just treated as a nuisance, to be dumped,” he said.

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