Let pensioners work to fill labour shortages

Our campaign to let pensioners work is gathering momentum. Here’s how you can help spread the word and create a win for common sense.

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  • Finance
  • Read Time: 3 mins

Only 2.9% of Australian pensioners work. That’s the latest data from the Department of Social Services. 

Many don’t because they don’t need to. Some, because they don’t want to. And that’s fair enough. However, others may want or need to work, but don't because they are penalised for doing so with the current pension system. 

As a result, National Seniors Australia is calling for pension reform to allow pensioners to work.

Have a go, to get a go? How about a fair go

Many pensioners have limited savings and would benefit enormously from a few extra years of work to give them a little more to spend and to top up their savings. 

Unfortunately, if a pensioner needs to work, they must first tangle with the complexities of Centrelink. 

Currently, a pensioner can only earn up to $240 per week before they start to lose their pension by 50 cents in the dollar. That only works out to be about one day of work a week. If they earn more than about $33,000 per year – which includes their pension – they also get taxed. 

Between the loss of pension, taxes and the Centrelink reporting, many pensioners simply don’t bother. 

It's part of the reason why our workforce participation rate for pensioners is so low. 

In comparison, pensioners in New Zealand do not lose their pension when they work, they simply pay tax on their income. So how many pensioners work in New Zealand? 24.8%.

Labour crisis

While the current pension system penalises pensioners for working, our businesses are crying out for competent and skilled workers. 

With borders only starting to open and workers sidelined by COVID-19, we need to find ways to give older Australians an incentive to remain in the workforce to meet demand. 

That’s why National Seniors Australia is calling on the government and opposition to consider making changes to our Age Pension income test.  

An exemption for employment income for people with limited savings could mobilise tens of thousands of pensioners to stay in or rejoin the workforce, or simply work more hours. 

We have been strongly advocating for this in the media and directly to politicians in the lead up to the election – and you can help: 

If we make a noise, they can’t ignore us, so let’s get to work! 

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