Employers, business associations and economists have welcomed the Government’s plan to legislate a higher re-employment age of 67 years by 2017, in a move they said they have been expecting and gearing up for as Singapore confronts an ageing society and tight labour workforce.
“The Labour Movement has negotiated hard with the tripartite partners for this over the past few years … The focus now must be for all companies to get ready for the enhancement,” posted National Trades Union Congress deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How on his Facebook page yesterday (Aug 23).
The move, aimed at extending the working life of Singaporeans, comes at a time when businesses in the Republic are facing a shortage of manpower and are scurrying to identify ways to mitigate this growing problem that is effectively eating into their bottom lines, with many forced to cut down on operations.
“The extension will help in alleviating the stress we see in the tight labour market now. It’s a good move, especially since labour productivity seems to take a long while to improve, and the labour force participation rate of older workers may not have much room to be pushed higher,” said UOB economist Francis Tan.
Singapore, like many other developed countries, is facing many challenges inherent to an ageing society.
By 2030, the number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is expected to triple to 900,000.
By then, about two working-age citizens will be supporting one elderly, down from about six now.
In a greying population, employment also gives older workers a sense of independence. “For many, it is an opportunity to remain gainfully employed and contribute positively to society. It gives older workers purpose and allows them an income and independence,” said Mr Zaheer Merchant, director of Pan Asia Logistics.
Mr Victor Tay, chief operating officer of the Singapore Business Federation, said: “Given the record number of baby boomers who will exit the workforce by 2020, it is only natural that we extend the re-employment age. In fact, the retirement age is only an arbitrary number. As long as an employee is competent and able to contribute, we have seen employers continue to employ these workers beyond the retirement age.”
Employers TODAY spoke to were in support of the extension, saying older employees bring something else to the table. “We have been supportive of the extension of the re-employment age since 2012 when it was raised from 62 to 65, and we will continue to do so. We value our older employees who bring with them a wealth of experience that is valuable to the bank,” said Ms Jacinta Low, head of HR Planning, OCBC Bank.
Sentosa Development Corporation said it would continue to invest resources to equip them with the skills for the job. “Such an arrangement allows the staff to continue earning an income and the organisation to continue leveraging on the institutional knowledge the staff has, to bring value to the job and, in some instances, to mentor younger staff,” said Ms Cynthia Lee, its divisional director for HR.
news source & image credits: todayonline.com