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Job vacancies strengthen case to let pensioners work

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The latest ABS job vacancy figures show 470,900 vacancies across all sectors but a concerning increase in health and social assistance job vacancies.

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke said the quarterly figures reveal a worrying increase particularly affecting the care sector with more than a third of businesses (33.4%) reporting vacancies.

“The 74,300 job vacancies in this sector highlights the desperate need for nurses, childcare, home care, residential care, and disability care workers. It strengthens the case to let pensioners work and help fix these shortages,” Henschke said.

“With today’s release of job vacancies more and more people are asking, “Why won’t the government just let pensioners work? “Our research shows almost 20% of pensioners are considering returning to work from retirement but under the current rules they risk losing $0.50 in the dollar from their pension and pay tax on top.”

National Seniors wants a New Zealand-style policy where pensioners work as much as they want and simply pay tax on their total income. Its simpler rewards those who need to work and encourages participation.

To support our call, National Seniors commissioned Deloitte to model the costs and benefits of an opt-in full exemption from the income test. They found the policy would be cost neutral if only 8.3% more pensioners were mobilised to re-enter the workforce and work longer or more hours. Beyond this, it is revenue positive.

Mr Henschke said it is vital government acts decisively to mobilise workers, particularly given the latest shortage in the care sector.

“We can’t just tinker at the edges, as is being proposed with changes to the Work Bonus limit, we need full throttle policy change,” he said. “The government must act quickly, clearly, and decisively to send a signal to pensioners and veterans they’re needed, valued and free to keep working, re-enter the workforce or work more.

“It would also help end ageism and put our older workforce participation rate up there with NZ, Sweden, USA, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, where older people are seen as an asset, not a liability.

“If the government in its upcoming budget adopted our proposal, we would take a giant step forward in ending ageism and solving the workforce crisis, particularly in the care sector.”

Content from National Seniors Australia media release. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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