Businesses will get up to $10,000 in government funding if they hire a job seeker aged 50 or older in a wage subsidy program announced in the budget but the Mature Age Worker Tax Offset will be scrapped.
“There needs to be a change in the culture of many businesses towards older workers,” Treasurer Joe Hockey said in his budget speech.
The wage subsidy program is called “Restart” and is going to cost $524.8 million over four years.
Starting from July 1 this year eligible employers will receive $3000 if they hire a full-time mature age job seeker who was previously unemployed for a minimum of six months and employ that person for at least six months.
Once the job seeker has been working for the same employer for 12 months, the business will receive another payment of $3000, then another $2000 at 18 months and a final $2000 at two years.
To be eligible for Restart, businesses will need to demonstrate the job they are offering is sustainable and ongoing, and that they are not displacing existing workers with subsidised job seekers.
Hockey claims the Restart program could benefit 32,000 mature age job seekers each year and “more than delivers” on its election commitment to lift workforce participation and quality of life.
“Employers can use these funds to assist employees to reskill and play a more active role in the workforce,” Hockey said.
But the government also announced it would scrap the Mature Age Workers Tax Offset saving $760 million over the next four years and the Seniors Employment Incentive Payment.
It said the savings would be directed to the Restart program.
“Encouraging mature age workers to participate in the workforce can be done more effectively through direct payments or incentives,” the budget papers state.
The government is under pressure to encourage greater employment of older workers by business after announcing the pension age will be increased within the coming decades.