Payment plan to help pensioners, job seekers into work

Payment plan to help pensioners, job seekers into work

Payment plan to help pensioners, job seekers into work

Barriers stopping pensioners and job seekers from working will be dismantled under a federal government plan to create a secure, fairly paid job for everyone who wants one.

A vision for work in Australia has been set out in a wide-ranging white paper.

It’s the third time such a blueprint has been put together, with the last one produced in the 1990s.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the 2023 edition is all about ensuring Australia makes the most of major economic shifts.

“It is about taking the big shifts we are seeing in our economy and our society and making it work for Australians, not against them,” Dr Chalmers said in Adelaide.

An ageing population, digital technologies, climate change and rising geopolitical tensions were highlighted as the megatrends under way.

Nine new measures were announced, including an adjustment to the income support system to smooth the pathway off job seeker and employment benefits.

Under the changes, which will need to be legislated, what’s known as the employment income “nil rate period” has been doubled to almost six months.

This will keep people connected to the income support system for longer – essentially allowing them to access things such as childcare subsidies and cheaper healthcare and transport.

In the event a new job doesn’t work out, recipients will be able to move back onto payments easily without having to reapply.

Pensioners will also be able to continue to work more without losing so much of their payment under a change that’s now permanent.

Older Australians on the pension can earn $11,800 through seasonal or ad hoc work before their payments are affected.

The white paper is the product of 12 months of work following last year’s jobs and skills summit.

At the heart of the government’s ambition is embedding a new definition of full employment: a good, secure, fairly paid job for everyone who wants one without having to look for too long.

The objective sits alongside the shorter-term statistical definitions of full employment used by the Reserve Bank to gauge the sustainable level of unemployment consistent with keeping inflation low and stable.

Dr Chalmers said the plan was to drive that assumption used by the central bank as low as possible by addressing structural problems stopping people from participating in the jobs market to their full potential.

The central bank has endorsed the government’s broader definition and explanation of full employment as complementary to their own cyclical, short term measure.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said the white paper was a missed opportunity to absolve roadblocks for employers as well as employees.

“We see industrial relations reforms coming forward from this government that business has universally condemned,” he said, in reference to workplace relations reforms that affect labour hire workers, gig workers and casuals.

 

Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)



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