Changes to re-employment law offer more opportunities for older workers

From July 1, employers must offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62, until the age of 67, up from 65 now ("Redeployed older workers should reinvent themselves" by Mr Francis Cheng, Forum Online, Jan 14; and "Changes to Re-employment Act do not guard against ageism" by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock, Jan 13).

Employers are also encouraged to voluntarily offer re-employment to their employees beyond age 67 wherever possible.

A key feature of re-employment is that it need not necessarily be for the same job or on the same terms. This provides opportunities for employees to work longer, while maintaining some flexibility for employers.

Nonetheless, adjustments to employees' terms and conditions should be based on reasonable factors such as productivity, duties and responsibilities.

To provide greater certainty, employers should offer re-employment contracts up to the re-employment age, or on term contracts of at least one year, renewable until the re-employment age.

Employers and employees have benefited from re-employment since its introduction in 2012.

In 2015, over 98 per cent of private-sector local employees who wished to continue working at the age of 62 were offered re-employment.

Employers should refer to the Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees, which sets out good re-employment practices for employers.

Employers who are unable to find suitable jobs for eligible employees can offer an Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) as a last resort. The EAP is to help eligible employees who are not re-employed tide over a period of time while they look for another job.

Today, the guidelines state that for an employee aged 62, the EAP could be three months of salary, subject to a minimum of $4,500 to help low-wage workers and a maximum of $10,000 to moderate the financial burden on employers.

From July 1, the EAP for an employee aged 62 could be 31/2 months of salary, subject to a minimum of $5,500 and a maximum of $13,000.

From July 1, employers who are unable to re-employ eligible employees can transfer their re-employment obligations to another employer, provided the employee consents and if the new employer agrees to take over all the re-employment obligations.

Employees who feel that they have been unfairly denied re-employment or have been offered unreasonable re-employment terms or EAP should approach the Ministry of Manpower for assistance.

Lee Pak Sing

Divisional Director Workplace Policy and Strategy Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Changes to re-employment law offer more opportunities for older workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe