Experts are calling for protection against age discrimination in the workplace ahead of the Ministry of Labor’s introduction of a draft act for the employment of middle-aged and elderly workers, which is to be released before the end of this month.
The nation’s working-age population — those aged 15 to 64 — began to decrease in 2016, the National Development Council’s population estimate report said.
As the overall population ages, the labor force would also age and affect the labor supply, the report said, recommending expanding labor sources by making better use of elderly workers.
The draft act is to focus on five main areas: prohibiting age discrimination, helping employees secure stable employment, helping unemployed workers find jobs, helping retired people re-enter the workforce and creating job opportunities, Workforce Development Agency Director-General Huang Chiu-kuei (黃秋桂) said on Sunday.
When people with similar experience and levels of education apply for the same job, 42.2 percent of companies are unwilling to hire a middle-aged or elderly worker, yes123 spokesperson Yang Tsung-pin (楊宗斌) said, citing a survey the company conducted on members of its online job board who are older than 45.
When filling “regular staff” positions, 75 percent of companies said they would consider age, he said.
Even though companies are not allowed to set limits on age or gender when hiring, “invisible” discrimination still exists, he added.
While government efforts to address gender discrimination have yielded considerable results, the government has yet to propose any policies or regulations on age discrimination, National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of National Development associate professor Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆) said.
As the population ages, more jobseekers will be middle-aged or elderly, and by then, companies will have no choice, he said.
Before then, the government could push for policies that encourage companies to hire more older applicants, he said.
This does not mean that the government has to create policies with the mindset that older workers are disadvantaged and offer different types of incentives, he said, adding that instead, it should solve the problem of age discrimination through promotional campaigns.
Digitalization is a common trend in the development of different industries, Yang said, adding that older workers who want to continue working should develop their social media skills and read about online trends to maintain their competitiveness.
The ministry has provided flexible job opportunities, personalized career consultation, training and other services through more than 300 public employment service centers, a ministry official said.