OLDER workers may soon get the chance to work till 67 years old, giving their savings for retirement a boost.
The tripartite partners – the Government, unions and employers – have agreed to work on extending the re-employment age for workers from 65 to 67, said Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Heng Chee How on the first day of the Budget debate yesterday.
Mr Heng, who is also the deputy secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said: “With life expectancy continuing to rise, I firmly believe that the re-employment age ceiling need not and cannot stagnate at 65.”
Currently, Singapore’s statutory minimum retirement age is 62, but employers have to offer re-employment to those eligible up to age 65.
Mr Heng also wants workers to be able to work for as long as they can and pushed for a ramp-up of workplace health practices to protect them “against premature loss of employability and employment”.
He said that jobs that need workers to stay on their feet, or use their joints often, or sectors that hire senior workers, should be targeted to ensure that workers “maintain a level of health that can allow them to carry on contributing”.
On the other hand, Dr Lam Pin Min (Sengkang West) suggested abolishing the retirement age altogether, and instead continuing to pay older workers based on their performance and contribution.
He said: “We need to ensure that, in other areas, the elderly can still participate meaningfully in society…The non-monetary aspects of growing old must not be neglected and the Government can do more to help them.”
Meanwhile, other labour issues were thrown up during the Budget debate. Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) called for more help for low-wage workers in the form of a fund to tide them over in case their companies go bust. Workers tend not to get paid when a firm folds.
He also asked for the National Wages Council’s (NWC’s) recommendations for low-wage workers to be made mandatory for all companies.
The NWC’s recommendations included a pay rise of at least $60 a month for workers earning up to $1,000 last year. Firms were left to choose to implement them, or not.
Nominated MP Teo Siong Seng, immediate past president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked for more government support for micro-enterprises and traditional industries, such as bakeries, noodle factories and tentage companies.
“Currently, these traditional industries face a number of problems – the inability to find successors, shrinking markets, rising rentals and increasing manpower costs,” he said in Mandarin.