It’s an employment scandal nobody on the Gold Coast will admit to – mature age workers exploited by employers who sack them if they dare complain.
Now Gold Coast lawyer Bruce Simmonds has exposed the issue, saying he has at least 20 mature age workers suing their former employers for unfair dismissal.
He says age discrimination in the workforce is rife as older workers are made redundant and undergo retraining for new roles where too often they are treated as a “slave class” of worker.
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Mr Simmonds, Litigation Director with Gold Coast firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, said the government’s push for mature age workers to stay in the workforce longer had a dark side as these workers were exploited and mistreated by employers.
“I have 20 or more clients who share a similar story. They are all mature age, late 50s or in their 60s, made redundant from previous jobs and needing to stay in the workforce. There are agencies that score thousands in government incentives to place these people in new jobs but too often the new jobs are a nightmare for the worker,” he said.
Mr Simmonds said there were ostensibly respectable Gold Coast companies hiring older workers but privately paying bare minimum wages and imposing unfair working conditions.
“If the worker protests, they are sacked or threatened with the sack, knowing it can be hard for older workers to find a new job. Intimidation is used to silence them. Older workers are the people with the least rights in the workforce and generally the unions can’t or won’t do anything to help them.
“Part of the problem is the mindset of younger bosses who can’t relate to older workers or have no respect for them,” he said.
Mr Simmonds said distressed clients said they were often treated with disrespect by younger bosses, treated like idiots or given menial tasks either to persuade them to resign or because the boss did not trust them with more responsibility.
“It’s tragic because mature age workers can be a golden asset for an employer. They are imbued with a long term work ethic, tremendous workplace experience and a professional attitude to their job. They could teach their bosses a thing or two about personnel management,” he said.
Mr Simmonds expects the problem to get worse in the years ahead as an aging population is forced to work longer before pension age.
“This crisis really illustrates how some younger bosses are really unqualified to administer older workers. There are government subsidies and incentives to place older people in the workforce but we need specialist training for middle management to administer them,” he added.
Mr Simmonds said there was a growing number of compensation claims from older workers claiming unfair dismissal.
“The age group for such claims now is much older. In the past you’d see them for 30- 40 year olds, now its people in their late 50s and 60s.
- Mr Simmonds is a compensation lawyer with Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers, Broadbeach