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What are the enablers and barriers to continued engagement in the labour force?

Workforce participation of mature age Australians has been increasing over the past 10 years. Although this trend is encouraging, there still remain a significant proportion of people who are not in paid work because of ill health, injury and disability.

To assess the role of ill health in inhibiting workforce participation, National Seniors Australia undertook a survey of 2,000 Australians aged 50 years and over.

The findings in this report confirm that illness, injury and disability are major reasons for being out of the workforce for people aged 50 years and over.

A range of adverse health conditions were found to hinder workforce participation. Musculoskeletal conditions were most likely to prevent people from working or looking for work, while having arthritis was most likely to keep people away from work for the longest period of time.

Despite the fact that most people are able to return to work after an absence of at least one month due to adverse health conditions, there is a significant proportion that remain disengaged from the workforce. 

A range of factors were identified as assisting people with adverse health conditions to return to work. It was found that flexible work options, management support and co-worker support were important factors in facilitating return to work after having suffered illness related work absence.

In addition, return to work can be facilitated by understanding and support managing preexisting health problems and implementing effective health and wellbeing programs. 

The findings of this report underscore the importance of the role of employers in actively facilitating continued workforce engagement for employees suffering from ill health, injury or disability.

Download the full report below.

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