More Govt support on the way for workers past retirement age

Maiki Sherman
Source: 1News

More support is on the way for older workers to help keep them employed even beyond the official retirement age.

A third of New Zealand's workforce is made up of people aged over 50 years old, while almost half of those currently between 65-69 are in some form of employment.

Just last week, Jackie Brokenshore celebrated her 65th birthday, qualifying for retirement and joining the 'gold card' club.

"I'm still waiting for mine," Brokenshore said.

She's certainly in no hurry and doesn't intend on giving up her job at Unity Books in Wellington.

"It was never my expectation that I would retire until I had decided to," she said.

Allan Osman remembers applying for his job at Bunnings almost 20 years ago.

"I said to them, 'Look, it's going to be my 73rd birthday on Tuesday. If it's going to be a problem, don't worry' and all I got back was 'see you Tuesday'," Osman said.

Osman, who is still working, turns 91 years old in July.

The Government on Wednesday launched an Employment Action Plan to support older workers. It tackles issues such as discrimination and more training opportunities.

Seniors Minister Ayesha Verrall said older workers can face "unique and complex challenges" in finding and maintaining employment.

"Sometimes it's as simple as addressing that preconception that someone is overqualified for a role. You should still meet that person and give them a chance to explain why in their life, at this time, this role makes sense for them," Verrall said.

John Thwaites is 72 years old and a former dairy farmer who now works at Bunnings.

"People probably think 'maybe you're getting a bit senile' but I don't think so," he laughed.

Around 23% of Bunnings staff are over the age of 50.

Petone complex manager Matthew Kimmins said the company has had huge success with employing older people who have plenty to offer.

"Customers see the wisdom and the experience that the senior team provide," Kimmins said.

Verrall defended the superannuation payments as being enough to live on.

"Yes I believe it is," she said.

But with the cost of living hitting a 30-year high, it's certainly not easy.

"That would have to be a consideration. I'm on my own - the bills have to be paid by me," Brokenshore said.

Not all work sectors, including labourers, can continue much beyond the retirement age. However, for those that can and are able to find employment, it's work they are happy to do.

"People need a purpose and I've found mine, so why would I stop?" Brokenshore said.