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Last year was a horror time for many mature age Gold Coast workers, exploited by employers who sacked them if they dared complain. So are things looking any better in 2016?

Sadly not says Gold Coast lawyer Bruce Simmonds who exposed an issue nobody wanted to admit to, saying he has at least 20 mature age workers suing their former employers for unfair dismissal.

Age discrimination in the workforce is as rampant and cruel as ever and he feels the year ahead holds no apparent relief for mature age workers who feel they are treated like slaves.

He had hoped there would be a change in the mindset toward exploited mature workers, especially for older workers made redundant and undergoing retraining for new roles where too often they are treated as a “slave class” of worker.

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 has a dark side that nobody wants to talk about as mature workers are exploited and mistreated by employers.

“I have quite a number of clients with the same experience. They are all late 50s or in their 60s, made redundant from previous jobs and needing to stay in the workforce. There are agencies that score thousands of dollars 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 complains, 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 have 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 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.

Issued on behalf of Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers, Broadbeach, by David Wilson Media Services.

Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers: Telephone 5592 5077

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