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Senator Kohl introduces Older Worker Opportunity Act…seeks to retain experience of older workers, curb workforce drain

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) has introduced legislation aimed at expanding opportunities for older Americans and baby boomers to work longer if they so choose. The bill is designed to address problems faced by workers who decide to forgo retirement and businesses who seek to retain the experience of older workers and curb a major workforce drain as seventy-seven million people quickly approach retirement age.

 

The legislation, the Older Worker Opportunity Act of 2005, is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and would:

  • Establish a tax credit to employers who offer flexible or phased work to older workers and protect them from health insurance or pension loss;
  • Extend COBRA health coverage for older workers who lose health coverage due to reduction in work hours;
  • Provide a tax credit for the eldercare of a loved one;
  • Improve access to employment and training services funded under the Workforce Investment Act;
  • Create a Federal Task Force on Older Workers through the Department of Labor in order to examine additional barriers faced by older workers and develop ongoing solutions that are helpful to both businesses and older workers.

“We face an historic challenge, and with it, an historic opportunity,” said Kohl. “We need a 21st century workplace that is a win-win for both older workers and their employers -- an effective strategy for retaining our competitive advantage against other countries facing the same demographic tidal wave.”

Earlier this year, Kohl held a hearing in his capacity as the lead Democrat on the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging. Frank Robinson, Manager of the Washington Nationals baseball team, testified on the importance of older worker retention and the mental and physical benefits gained by continuing to contribute in the workforce. Other witnesses, including older workers, the business community and researchers, identified barriers that make it difficult for older workers to work longer. Many of the issues raised at the hearing are addressed in the Older Worker Opportunity Act of 2005
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