Firms ‘need time to redesign jobs for older staff’

October 1, 20141:01 pm644 views
Firms ‘need time to redesign jobs for older staff’
Firms ‘need time to redesign jobs for older staff’

SINGAPORE — Many companies are not ready to re-employ workers who are above 65 years old and have asked for more time to adapt before the re-employment age is legally extended to 67, said Senior Minister of State (Manpower and Health) Dr Amy Khor yesterday.

With older employees requiring flexible hours and less physically demanding jobs, firms have asked for time to redesign jobs, change work processes and automate some operations, she told reporters following visits to Absolute Kinetics Consultancy (AKC), a workplace-safety training centre, and Giant Hypermart (IMM), where employers shared their rehiring practices with her.

“Most companies now are actually quite well prepared in terms of re-employing (workers) from 62 to 65, but not so many companies are prepared in terms of re-employing beyond 65,” said Dr Khor. “So, we need to give them time to adapt to the coming change and that is legislating to extend the re-employment age to 67 at an appropriate time.”

Dr Khor’s comments came in the wake of recommendations released by the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers (Tricom), which she chairs, on Monday.

The recommendations, which the Government has accepted, include adopting a promotional approach, such as outreach efforts and incentives to encourage companies to re-employ workers above the age of 65 before legislation kicks in.

Dr Khor said Tricom — comprising the Government, employers and unions — has no time frame for when legislation should kick in and will monitor the effectiveness of the promotional approach.

Companies had told Tricom the time given for firms to adapt to the Retirement and Re-employment Act, which took effect in 2012, had been necessary. Thus, the committee will give firms adequate time to prepare before the next legislative change, added Dr Khor.

Tricom is also in talks with the Government over incentives that will be given to employers, which will be announced during the Budget next year and backdated to Jan 1, 2015.

Of the companies she visited yesterday, Giant Hypermart (IMM) in Jurong has 15 employees among its 161-strong staff who are above 60.

At AKC in Hillview Terrace, about 4 per cent of its 132 staff are aged 60 and above.

Giant chief executive officer Victor Chia said mature workers are valued at the hypermart because they bring a wealth of life experience which younger workers can tap, leading to a happier workplace.

The company also encourages younger employees to help their older counterparts in physically demanding roles, he added.

AKC’s executive chairman Fang Koh Look said hiring older but experienced workers saves the company from having to pay school fees to train staff. Older workers are also more credible than younger employees and will bring stability to the company, he added.


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