It's one of the biggest issues on the employment landscape but nobody wants to admit to it - but a new survey has revealed one in 10 bosses won't hire a worker older than 50.
Age discrimination is a major workplace law issue, as older workers find it increasingly difficult to be hired by younger bosses. Although it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on age, those practising such behaviour look for subtle ways around the laws.
A report on age discrimination released recently by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found one in 10 employers would not hire someone older than 50 and half of Australia's employers believe older workers are at a higher risk of being made redundant.
A third of the business leaders surveyed reportedly said older workers did "not like being told what to do" by a younger person, are more forgetful and dislike new technology. Business leaders feel older staff have difficulty learning new things and do not want to work long hours.
Fifteen per cent said older workers "complain a lot'', and 11 per cent felt older workers were "grumpy or short-tempered''.
Women are more likely to feel discriminated against than men and the survey found that one in five bosses would not encourage job applications from older workers.
Two out of three workers aged between 55 and 64 said they had been turned down for a job, and 28 per cent had been refused a promotion.
Meanwhile a third of the older people surveyed complained that they had been ignored or refused service in a shop.
"Older participants, particularly women, feel that retail settings are geared to the needs of younger consumers,'' the report says. "This is despite the fact that the older market often has a greater degree of discretionary spending power.''
A client of our firm experienced at first hand the harsh reality of this age discriminatory attitude. Her career was in the HR recruitment industry, and she could not recall ever having successfully placed a candidate above the age of 55 as it was incredibly hard to place older jobseekers.
She then had real trouble getting employment herself when made redundant and not offered any other roles even though the company was advertising for them. She was 53 at the time.
She has now found a good job but someone not as strong as her might have given up. Employers need to strive for a balanced workplace. A workplace skewed too heavily toward younger workers may lack the "experience" base needed to avoid making mistakes that experienced workers could identify in time.
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