Age discrimination and Australia’s workplaces

Age discrimination. An older man at workDiscrimination in any form is abhorrent. Our society widely vilifies anyone who discriminates against another because of their gender, race or religion.

However reality can be different in the workplace as age discrimination still occurs with disturbing regularity.

The Age Discrimination Act was introduced in 2004 to combat discrimination in Australia. Yet the Act has had every little effect on combating the negative and, frankly, incorrect stereotypes that persist about older workers.

If put on the spot, would employers would be able to adequately say what the Age Discrimination Act entails?

They would probably be able to say that the Act was introduced in order to combat ageism in the workforce and not much else.

Employers tend to discriminate against workers of a certain age group because they are functioning under the incorrect assumption that getting older means a decline in a person’s physical abilities, therefore increasing the potential for injury and cost to the company.

On the contrary, older workers normally go about their work more carefully, considering their safety and that of others when performing tasks. In terms of risk management, older workers tend to be less of a risk than young workers who can go about their work thinking they are invincible.

Older workers are valuable assets for companies. It might seem clichéd, but older workers are often more patient and provide a strong support system for your younger, more inexperienced staff and have a depth of knowledge that only experience can bring.

Overcoming the last acceptable form of discrimination in your workplace is key to ensuring your organisation benefits from the skills and knowledge of older workers rather than losing their valuable contribution.