Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New Work Bonus helps more senior Australians stay in work

In just one year, about 135,000 age pensioners have been able to work while having less income counted under the pension income test thanks to the Australian Government’s Seniors Work Bonus.

Age pensioners are keeping more of their pension as a result of the new and improved Work Bonus introduced in July last year.

The Australian Government recognises the important contribution senior Australians make to the community and the economy.

Our improved Work Bonus has encouraged more senior Australians to stay in work and continue to contribute their valuable skills and knowledge, as well as keeping them connected to their community and the workforce.

Under the scheme, eligible pensioners can earn up to $250 a fortnight without it being counted as income under the pension income test.

In addition, any unused amount of the fortnightly $250 Work Bonus will accumulate in an employment ‘income bank’, up to a maximum of $6,500.

Credit in the ‘income bank’ can then be carried forward to future years and be used to offset employment income that would otherwise be taken into account under the pension income test.

This means that age pensioners can earn up to $6,500 each year, without it affecting their pension.

These changes further improved the Work Bonus, which was introduced as part of the Australian Government’s 2009 pension reforms.

We understand that pensioners have the least room to move in their budgets. Since the Government’s reforms, the maximum rate of the pension has increased by $154 per fortnight for singles and $156 per fortnight for couples combined.

We know that older Australians can sometimes find it difficult to find work, and that’s why we have delivered 7,500 Experience+ Career Advice sessions to jobseekers and workers aged over 45 years since 2010 to help them get a job.

This is a free, voluntary telephone and email based service which provides tailored, professional and informed career advice by qualified Career Advisers to assist participants in identifying transferrable skills, explore career options and develop a plan of action to help them achieve their work goals.

We recognise that mature age workers bring an enormous amount of knowledge and capability to the workplace, but for many, this might not have been formally recognised through accredited qualifications.

That’s why, through the Investing in Experience (Skills Recognition and Training) program, businesses that employ workers aged 50 years and over will be eligible to apply for up to $4000 in funding to assist with the costs of obtaining a skills assessment and training from a Registered Training Organisation.

The funding will assist mature age workers to gain formal recognition in their current competencies, and provide training for any knowledge or skills gaps identified to ensure they receive a formal, nationally recognised qualification at the Certificate III to Advanced Diploma level.

These initiatives are a win for senior Australians, providing more incentive to work; they’re a win for business, as they will find it easier to tap into the skills of older workers; and they’re a win for the Australian economy.