Release type: Joint Media Release


Launch of report on age barriers to work


The Hon Mark Dreyfus MP
The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation

The Gillard Government has today launched the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report, Access All Ages—Older Workers and Commonwealth Laws.

In the report, the commission identifies legal barriers to older persons participating in the workforce and makes recommendations across superannuation, social security, employment, insurance and compensation law.

"I congratulate the Australian Law Reform Commission for delivering this significant report,” Mr Dreyfus said.

"There are enormous opportunities that come with an ageing population including a more experienced workforce and the availability of mentors for younger workers and we need to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report and highlighted that the Government was already acting on a key recommendation.

"We have before the Parliament, legislation which amends the Fair Work Act to provide a right to request flexible working arrangements for mature-age employees and those with caring responsibilities," Mr Shorten said.

"The Gillard Government has also abolished the Super Guarantee maximum age limit, enabling employees aged 70 and over to contribute to their retirement savings for the first time.

"This is in addition to a $55.3 million investment in our 2012–2013 budget to specifically encourage employers to recruit and retain mature-age job seekers and to help mature-age people find and keep a job.

"The report is great because it doesn’t just provide an insight into the challenges older people face in gaining employment, but it gives us a genuine road map of what to do about it.

"The Government will consider the commission’s other recommendations with interest," Mr Shorten said.

"For more than five million baby boomers in Australia, there’s a realistic chance of 20-30 years of life after work, but we also know that around 60 per cent want to keep working beyond 65 for a range of reasons, with most preferring a phased withdrawal from the workforce,” Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said.

"Older workers often don’t want to continue the work arrangements they had when they were younger and are seeking more flexibility in their work to take advantage of healthy semi-retirement years.

"One of the important reforms the Gillard Government is undertaking is to give older Australians more flexibility by extending the statutory right to request flexible work arrangements to over 55s—an idea that has worked well in the UK where 70 per cent of employers are now offering a range of flexible arrangements," Mr Butler said.

The Australian Law Reform Commission considers that a major coordinating initiative is needed in the form of a National Mature-Age Workforce Participation Plan, which is its first and keystone recommendation.

The other recommendations in the report are specific strategies in the implementation of the National Plan, designed to provide:

  • a coordinated policy response to enable mature-age workforce participation
  • consistency across Commonwealth laws and between Commonwealth and state and territory laws to support mature-age workforce participation
  • a reduction in age discrimination
  • a greater awareness of mature-age workers’ rights and entitlements
  • support for maintaining attachment to the workforce for mature-age persons
  • work environments, practices and processes that are appropriate for mature-age workers.

For more information, including access to the commission’s full final report and its recommendations, go to