Tuesday, 3 November 2020

How will older Clarence Valley workers now without a job fare under the new employment landscape created by the Morrison and Frydenberg's JobMaker Hiring Credits?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the Clarence Valley NSW this is how our resident population breaks down:

Resident population – 51,662 persons as of 30 June 2019

Males – 25,891

Females – 25,771

Gender ratio (number of males per 100 females) – 100.5

Median age – 49.2 years

Age composition of population total – 0-14 years 16.9%, 

15-64 years 56.6%, 65 years and over 26.6%.

There are 3,480 people aged 80 years and older and 8,709 children 

aged between 0-14 years.

The largest age cluster in people of workforce age are those aged 

between 55-64 years.

By 31 March 2020 the Clarence Valley over all unemployment rate was 6.3% - higher than both the New South Wales and national unemployment rate.

A relatively high unemployment rate is a feature of the valley’s economy and from time to time when a new government employment program comes along our communities hope for some relief for the unemployed in their midst.

On 11 July 2014 then Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott launched the Restart programme.

Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over who have been out of work for out of work for six months or more.

Employment under this scheme was to be for a guaranteed 26 weeks with the hope that employers would retain the subsidised workers as part of their regular non-subsidised workforce after that.

However, in the last six years and four months it appears over half of the funding eamarked for Restart has remained in federal government coffers, only est. 51,190 older workers were employed under the Restart program and 40 per cent of those were out of work within.

This program bears all the features which would make it capable of being gamed by both job service providers and employers.

Now due to the current economic recession in Australia, the Morrison Coalition Government has decided to continue forgetting that older workers exist and, focus instead on those unnempoyed individuals between 66 and 35 years of age receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance (Other) or Parenting Payment.

This new program which was due to commence on 7 October 2020 is called the JobMaker Hiring Credit. A total of $4 billion in funding has been allocated to this programe from 2020-21 to 2022-23.

It seems that this too will be a program likely to be gamed by employers…..

ABC News, 31 October 2020:

The Federal Government's new wage subsidy hasn't passed Parliament yet, but some employers are already advertising for young workers who will qualify for the program.

So how does that sit with Australia's anti-discrimination laws, and will the scheme make it more difficult for people who don't qualify to find work?

Here's what we know.

Who will be covered by the wage subsidy?

The JobMaker Hiring Credit will provide wage subsidies to businesses if they take on extra workers, between the ages of 16 and 35, who have been receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance (Other) or Parenting Payment.

Employers will be able to claim $200 per week for staff aged between 16 and 29, and $100 a week for those aged 30 to 35.

The $4 billion program, announced in the recent Budget, is currently being examined by a Senate committee, which has received a mixed response so far.

But some online job advertisements are already asking for candidates who fit the criteria.

"This is a newly created role under the JobMaker program and as such candidates will be expected to demonstrate eligibility with the JobMaker provisions," one advertisement read.

"Please confirm your age is between 16y and 35y."

Ads have begun appearing specifically asking only for people who meet the eligibility to apply.(ABC News)

Another ad asked for candidates who would be eligible for the higher Hiring Credit rate.

"To be successful in this role you will have: Eligibility for the JobMaker program (ie be aged 16 to 29 years old and have received income support, such as JobSeeker or Youth Allowance, for at least one of the prior three months)."

Nicole Newport-Ryan lost her job in March, and while she has since picked up part-time work, the 48-year-old is still hoping for a full-time position.

"They may as well write, 'If you're over this age please don't even read the advert,'" she said.

"You know like, don't even bother applying, don't read it, we're not interested in you.

"I think it's absolutely discriminatory."…..

What does the law say?

In a statement, Treasury said Australia's Age Discrimination Act generally made it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of age.

"However, the JobMaker Hiring Credit falls within the exemptions from this general prohibition," it said.

"Individual circumstances will vary, and employers should seek their own legal advice as to how the law will apply to them."

Alysia Blackham, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, pointed to a couple of exemptions that could apply.

"One of them is if it complies with another law, so once this is passed in legislation, it's possible that it will be exempt on that basis," she said…..

Youth unemployment is also a persistent concern in the Clarence Valley and, I sincerely hope that local employers who are able to hire take up JobMaker Hiring Credits and employ younger people in newly created positions. 

At the same time I hope local employers consider hiring older workers as well, using the Restart program to subsidise their wages for the first six and a half months. The Employer Hotline on 13 17 15 will be able to point prospective employers in the right direction.

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