Moves to incentivise a return to the workplace by older Australians have been applauded by the Australian Hotels Association, however industry groups say greater incentives are needed.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert announced this week that the Morrison government is committed to providing strong incentives and support for older job seekers.

He said that aged pensioners who re-enter the workforce or increase their work hours will be able to benefit from an easier return to the pension if they exceed the income limit, and will also be allowed to keep their pensioner concession card for two years.

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has applauded the move. “Increasing the flexibility of the age pension system will help those who wish to move between work and the pension without facing unnecessary financial penalties,” AHA’s CEO Stephen Ferguson said.

According to Ferguson, with dire labour shortages being felt across Australia’s hotels and hospitality venues, any measures to assist mature Australians into work, should they wish to do so, should be embraced.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, wants the incentives to go further and is calling for the threshold on the work bonus scheme to be increased so people can earn more before their pension is reduced.

At the moment, pensioners can only earn an average of $480 a fortnight – the equivalent of only one day a week – before their pension payments are reduced, representing a significant barrier for aged pension recipients to return to the workforce, according to the ACCI.

“There is an army of older workers, ready and willing to return to the workplace. However, skilled aged pension recipients have very little incentive to re-enter the workplace,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“In raising the Work Bonus threshold, pensioners would be allowed the opportunity to earn more, while businesses who are struggling to find staff would have access to workers, filling thousands of job vacancies.

“As the national, state and territory chambers of commerce, our united demand reflects the fact that businesses right across the country are crying out for workers.  This is a simple step the Federal Government must take to grow our workforce, boost our productivity and drive our economic recovery.”

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