Higher payouts for workers who aren’t re-employed on cards

May 20, 201610:19 am296 views
Higher payouts for workers who aren’t re-employed on cards
Mr Raymond Ong, 68, who has worked as a busser at Lawry's The Prime Rib Singapore for the past two months. He uses a trolley with wheels to move cutlery and crockery around, as opposed to trays, which he found heavy and more dangerous as an older worker. Photo: Louisa Tang

SINGAPORE — Older workers who are not offered re-employment when they turn 62 could receive a higher one-off payment to tide them over while they seek new jobs, under revised guidelines issued on Wednesday (May 18).

This sum of money, called Employment Assistance Payment (EAP), should be 3.5 times the released worker’s salary, up from the previous three times. This was recommended by a tripartite committee (Tricom) comprising the Government, employers and unions, which looks at the employability of older workers.

It also proposed that the minimum EAP to a worker be raised to S$5,500 and capped at S$13,000 — the previous recommended range was S$4,500 to S$10,000.

The revised guidelines were made in view of the re-employment age rising from 65 to 67, starting July next year. This means a worker should be offered re-employment when he reaches the statutory retirement age of 62, up to the age of 67, as long as they are medically fit and their work performances are at least satisfactory.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Manpower Ministry and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency said: “The revised EAP amounts took into consideration rising wages and… that employers’ re-employment obligations will be extended by two years.”

Tricom also recommended that employers provide re-hired workers with extra Medisave contributions to make medical benefits more portable.

Starting from July 1, the WorkPro scheme, rolled out in 2013 to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce, will also be enhanced. It will encourage employers to adopt more age-friendly practices, redesign workplaces for older employees to work safely and easily, and offer flexible work arrangements for all workers.

Companies may receive a grant of up to S$480,000 under the enhanced scheme, through the Age Management Grant, Job Redesign Grant, or Work-Life Grant.

Mr Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said that unionised companies generally adhere to the guidelines, and some pay even more than the mandated EAP amounts.

NTUC could not say how many companies have followed the guidelines, though Mr Tay said it does track them. “I don’t see major issues of compliance among unionised companies… I’m more concerned about the non-unionised ones — 70 per cent of Singaporean companies are SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and many are not unionised,” he said, adding that the Manpower Ministry would handle such companies should issues arise.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday during a visit to Lawry’s the Prime Rib Singapore restaurant, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said that about 1,800 companies have tapped on the Age Management Grant over the past three years, most of them SMEs.

“The next challenge is to get more companies to… take real action to redesign their workplace. In a way, we’re now in the second phase (of the scheme),” Mr Lim added.

At Lawry’s, its director Kevin Koh said that the fine-dining restaurant has put in place several age-friendly practices, including having trolleys, an anti-slip mat around the kitchen area, a dishwashing machine and automatic knife sharpener to reduce physical strain, and an e-menu system using a portable iPad so that servers need not keep going to the kitchen to check on orders.

It will tap on grants offered under the enhanced WorkPro scheme to fully integrate the e-menu system — including table reservations and customer relationship management.

There are 13 mature workers at Lawry’s Mandarin Gallery outlet, which hires about 55 workers — an increase from just three to four mature workers in 2013. Its oldest employee is Raymond Ong, 68, who has worked as a busser for two months. He finds the trolley useful, having worked in other places where he had to hand-carry trays of heavy crockery to the kitchen.

Both he and Ms Patricia Leong cited Lawry’s flexible working hours as a big incentive. Ms Leong, 60, started work as a cook two months ago, was granted two weeks’ leave a year to work on her own business. She gets to pick her work times and now clocks eight hours a day, five days a week.

“As long as I am fit and healthy, I will continue to work,” she added.

news source: todayonline.com

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