There is a concern that the end of JobKeeper this month could unintentionally cause a rise in unemployment, particularly for people over the age of 35 due to the eligibility criteria of the JobMaker scheme.

Businesses can now qualify for a Federal Government subsidy of up to $200 per week for new employees aged between 16 and 35 but the scheme’s eligibility criteria could impact older Australians who are trying to get back into the work force.

When JobKeeper ends, some businesses that have been reliant on Federal Government wages subsidies may reduce staff numbers to cut costs, but there is also a genuine concern employers could choose to replace employees over the age for 35 in favour of hiring people in the age range to qualify for JobMaker.

JobMaker was designed to bolster employment levels amongst 16 to 35 year olds but it has the potential to have a medium to long-term impact on older Australians who may struggle to get back into the workforce, particularly in roles that don’t require pre-requisite skill sets or qualifications. The concern is that JobMaker may be counterintuitive.

Businesses need to be mindful that making employment decisions based on an employee’s age may have other financial or reputational impacts such as individuals taking legal action against employers for discrimination or unfair dismal.

Whilst the end of JobKeeper was inevitable as federal funding can only stretch so far, the Morrison Government should monitor the impacts of the JobMaker scheme closely and be prepared to modify JobMaker’s eligibility criteria to create a more even playing field if need be. The next six months will be crucial for some businesses as they readapt to life without substantial government support.

A sudden increase in unemployment or significant disruption in the labor market has the potential to negatively impact consumer confidence which is the last thing our economy needs right now.