unretired and rehired


You’ve heard of retirees going back to work. But what about returning to the workforce after you’ve retired twice?


That was the situation for HESTA Policy Manager Karen Volpato, who decided to start working again last year after her second retirement.

Karen’s first retirement only lasted five months and, reflecting on it now, she realises she just needed a bit of a break.

She managed to stay retired for four years the second time, but after a big interstate move and renovating her home, she found herself looking around for her next challenge.


Back in the game

Karen is one of a growing number of Australians who are “unretiring”.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are around 40,000 more people aged 65 and over in the workforce than the same time a year ago.

The reasons for returning to work after retirement are many and varied, including cost-of-living pressures, social interaction, and a sense of purpose


The reasons for returning to work after retirement are many and varied, including cost-of-living pressures, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.

For Karen, it was the promise of more intellectual stimulation that encouraged her to apply for a job.

“I think it's the joy of trying to solve a problem or come up with different solutions to things,” Karen says.

“That was the thing for me that really triggered it.

“I also think sharing your knowledge with others is really wonderful at this stage of life.

“I’m really loving it because I’m working for a fund that’s so devoted to members, as well as trying to get system change, which is really interesting.”


Weighing it up

There can be a number of financial implications to explore if you’re considering returning to work:

  • If you’re receiving the Age Pension, you’ll need to let Centrelink know about any additional income within 14 days. Under the Work Bonus, eligible pensioners can earn $300 a fortnight without reducing their pension.
  • If you’re receiving an income from your super, you can switch your account back into the accumulation phase. It’s important to know that this will have tax implications.
  • You could also keep your super in the income stream phase to supplement your income and open a new accumulation account for your employer contributions. 


There can be other costs to consider before putting your hand up for a new job:

  • Don’t forget to factor in things like petrol and vehicle maintenance, or public transport and buying your lunch, which can be more expensive than eating at home.
  • And if you’re caring for someone, you may need to hire a carer while you’re at work.


Considering reversing your retirement?

If you’re thinking of returning to the workforce, Karen has some tips.

“Think about what really makes you interested about work and the things that really matter to you,” she says.

“And put an application in. Because I think a lot of retired people don't. You might think you’re going to get a negative reaction because of your age, but that’s not always the case.”

With many industries across Australia facing staff shortages, employers are eager to fill their vacancies and retirees are in demand.

In fact, according to recruiter Robert Half, 58% of Australian employers have hired a retiree in the past 12 months, and a further 37% would consider it.

And why wouldn’t they?

“There are great employers out there like HESTA who want that knowledge brought in,” Karen says.

“Let's face it, once you've been at work a long time, you do have a lot of knowledge about yourself, as well as what you can do.”


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