Aged care pension recipients and veterans are being encouraged to kick down the doors of ageism by taking advantage of seasonal work this Christmas as the country battles workforce shortages.
Older people of Age Pension age and eligible veterans are now able to earn an additional $300 a fortnight from working without causing a reduction in their pension, due to recent interim changes to the Work Bonus.
The first $300 of fortnightly income from work is now not counted under the pension income test and now single pensioners over Age Pension age with no other private income could earn up to $490 a fortnight from work and still receive the maximum rate of pension.
Seasonal work, often called “Christmas casual” jobs, is a great way to earn some extra income and break down the stigmas older people face in the workforce.
Professor John McCallum, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of Research at National Seniors, said older people are stable and reliable workers who can help fill job gaps.
“Money is important, especially if you haven’t got much, but older people also want to stay active and be involved and engaged socially too,” he explained.
“Older people are keen to learn and keep up to date with things if they go back into areas they were formerly well-known in.
“They may also want flexibility, which is why casual work is quite good.”
While seasonal work is a good option for grey nomads travelling the country, as the cost of living and inflation rises, older people are returning to work because they are living longer but have struggled to pushback on ageism barriers.
“In the 70s, the amount of money you needed for the length of life you had was half of what it is now,” Professor McCallum said.
“People are living, therefore, they need to work and this is something that should be able to continue if they are able, willing and healthy enough to do it.
“Internationally, there is a dreadful low proportion of people over 65 in jobs so it’s a really important area to grow.”
A National Seniors survey of 4,000 older people published earlier this year identified ageism as a key barrier to accessing employment, often meaning they are disregarded by employers because of their age.
Changes to these pension income thresholds could see older people kick down some of those barriers as many employment areas are in need of workers.
“Older people get through an employment agency and then they don’t get beyond that,” Professor McCallum said.
“At the moment, we can really push that barrier because we need people to do work and we need them.
“Older people should be employed for what they can do and not shut out because they’re older.”
Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten, also encouraged people to consider picking up Christmas and seasonal work.
If you are feeling the financial strain this Christmas, Mr Shorten also advised older people to check whether they have work credits, accessible through Centrelink.
“These credits act as a buffer to help encourage people to take on ad hoc work, without their Income Support Payment taking a hit,” he said.
“The festive season is a great time to pick up part-time or casual work, and Working Credit, Income Bank, and Work Bonus all help Australians stay engaged in the workforce while getting some extra support.
“Each payment has different rules, but it’s simple to check online if you have credits available that might offset any reduction in your payment from casual work.”
You can access your Working Credits through Centrelink account which can be accessed via the myGov website.
Older people accessing the Age Pension now also still have access to their Pensioner Concession Card and associated benefits for two years after earning over the income threshold and are no longer receiving Age Pension payments.