Older employees: better off working in New Zealand?
New Zealand has come out second overall in the latest PwC Golden Age Index which looked at how 34 OECD countries were making the most of employees 55 and over, jumping from 9th in 2003.
Australia is sitting at 15th. So how did the Kiwis get this result ?
Incentives for older workers
The report showed nearly 40 percent of New Zealanders were working until they are 70, compared to our full-time rate of 7% for people over 65.
It concluded NZ’s good record for allowing older workers flexible working arrangements and a relatively low gender pay gap were the reason behind the jump.
Their human-rights legislation also prevents discrimination based on age, with no age limit on accessing student loans either, making it simpler for older workers to re-train.
There is also no compulsory retirement age, encouraging workers to stay in their jobs longer or continue part-time or casually.
In addition, New Zealand raised its super eligibility age from 60 to 65 between 1992 and 2001 and took away the surcharge on extra income for those who had already claimed theirs.
Australia failing to match up
Here, it’s a different story with the Index estimating our economy is missing out on $78 billion that would otherwise be supplied by older workers.
Full-time earnings for 55-64 year-olds fall into the bottom third of countries surveyed compared to 25-54 year-olds.
There are a range of proposals put forward in the report to boost our numbers including initiating pension reforms and “phased retirement” policies.
Making older workers more attractive to employers with re-training and anti-discrimination legislation are two other key steps.
Some companies have already launched programs to help their employees stay in the workforce longer. Accor offers a training program for experience workers aged 50 and over, while Catholic Homes provides flexibility in the length of its shifts and the amount of physical work.
With the number of workers over the age of 65 years set to skyrocket , it’s up to government and business to do all they can so we don’t continue to lose out.