Decent Work, Older Workers, and Vulnerability in the Economic Recession: A Comparative Study of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States

80 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2010 Last revised: 5 Jul 2013

See all articles by Susan Bisom-Rapp

Susan Bisom-Rapp

California Western School of Law

Andrew Frazer

School of Law, University of Wollongong, Australia

Malcolm Sargeant

Middlesex University - Business School

Date Written: October 28, 2010

Abstract

In countries with aging populations, the global recession presents unique challenges for older workers, and compels an assessment of how they are faring. To this end, the International Labour Organization's concept of decent work provides a useful metric or yardstick. Decent work, a multifaceted conception, assists in revealing the interdependence of measures needed to secure human dignity across the course of working lives. With this in mind, in three English-speaking, common law countries (Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), this Article considers several decent work principles applicable to older workers and provides evaluations in light of them. Relevant to the analysis is the role workplace law plays in each country in ameliorating or exacerbating older worker vulnerability.

Although the recession affected each country to a different extent, and the response of national employers to the crisis varied significantly, the effects of the financial crisis on older workers are strikingly similar. The recession has affected the quality of work for older workers. For many, employment has become more fragile, inconstant and insecure. In all three nations, the recession also compromised older workers' ability to plan for and secure a key decent work precept, a dignified retirement.

Yet stronger national differences emerge when evaluating labor regulations affecting older workers. While all three countries prohibit age discrimination to varying degrees, such prohibitions by themselves do not greatly contribute to employment security for older workers. General labor standards, such as those restricting termination and layoff or requiring severance pay, and the provision of a robust safety net, are just as important in forestalling older worker vulnerability. By using decent work as a touchstone, and looking broadly at the intersecting factors that contribute to older worker insecurity, the outlines of needed policy reforms become clear.

Keywords: recession, older workers, aging workers, age discrimination, employment discrimination, employment law, decent work, dignified retirement, worker insecurity, Australia, United Kingdom, International Labour Organization

JEL Classification: K10, K31, K33

Suggested Citation

Bisom-Rapp, Susan and Frazer, Andrew and Sargeant, Malcolm, Decent Work, Older Workers, and Vulnerability in the Economic Recession: A Comparative Study of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (October 28, 2010). Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 43, 2011, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 1699447, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1699447

Susan Bisom-Rapp (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
858-336-5834 (Phone)

Andrew Frazer

School of Law, University of Wollongong, Australia ( email )

School of Law
University of Wollongong
Wollongong, New South Wales 2522
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://http://lha.uow.edu.au/law/

Malcolm Sargeant

Middlesex University - Business School ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/aboutus/staffdirectory/Malcolm_Sargeant.aspx

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
346
Abstract Views
2,036
rank
119,278
PlumX Metrics