|Updated: 4/11/2007 10:26 am
||Published: 4/11/2007 10:26 am
Approximately 28 percent of America's labor force is comprised of older workers who are between the ages of 45 and 65 years old. There has been a general perception that older workers are more expensive to keep in terms of health insurance costs. As a result, some employers often offer early retirement incentive programs to older workers in an effort to cut down on the expenses of keeping them employed. However, laws have been enacted to protect senior workers from discrimination in regards to their benefit programs. For example, under the Older Workers' Benefit Protection Act, employers must provide older workers with benefits at least equal to those provided for younger workers unless the employer can prove that the cost of providing an equal benefit is greater for an older worker than for a younger worker. It also makes it illegal for employers when conducting layoffs to pressure older workers to waive their rights to sue for age discrimination in exchange for additional benefits, such as severance or early retirement. The law specifically requires that employers give employees at least 21 days to think before signing a waiver. It also mandates that employers give older workers comprehensive and timely information about early retirement benefits. If you're a senior worker, you should also be aware that benefits promised through most pension and employer-sponsored retirement benefit plans are protected by the federal Employee Retirement Income and Security Act. Finally, if you're a retiree who chooses to work after retirement, you're entitled to receive all your Social Security benefits, regardless of the amount of income you bring in.