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Mature-age workers

Last updated February 2022

This chapter explains reasonably practicable steps you can take to reduce the health and safety risks to mature-age workers in your business.

Benefits of recruiting and retaining mature-age workers

Definition: Mature-Age Worker

A mature-age worker is any worker aged over 45 years.

With an ageing population in Australia, more mature-age people are in the workforce, and this will continue to increase.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), between 2000 and 2020, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.4% to 16.3%. Based on current population trends, this group is projected to increase more rapidly over the next decade, as further cohorts of baby boomers (those born between the years 1946 and 1964) turn 65. Much of this population is heading towards retirement. If these workers retire at the same time, it will leave a significant gap in the labour market, as there are not enough younger workers to replace them.

Important: Recruiting and retaining mature-age workers will keep them in the workforce to alleviate the labour gap. It also brings numerous other benefits to the workplace.

There are several benefits to recruiting and retaining mature-age workers, including the following:

  • mature-age workers typically have a broad base of transferrable knowledge and skills that can help them to learn new ways of completing tasks;
  • mature-age workers retain a wealth of knowledge that they can pass on to other workers – for this reason, they are often excellent workplace mentors and coaches;
  • mature-age workers have high retention rates – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Mobility Survey 2013, workers aged over 45 who have been employed at a business for more than 12 months are far less likely to change jobs than workers aged 20–34 years;
  • by recruiting mature-age workers, you could have the additional benefit of eligibility for a government subsidy; and
  • studies show higher productivity and lower levels of absenteeism in mature-age workers. A study in 2004 by the Australian mining industry demonstrated that mature-age workers were more productive, had fewer accidents and had fewer absences from work compared with younger workers. According to a 2006 Australian Health Management study, workers over the age of 55 performed at their best for approximately 7 hours out of an 8-hour day, which was higher than any other age group studied.