Look into needs of seniors in re-employment

Elderly at Raffles Place on Aug 24, 2015.
Elderly at Raffles Place on Aug 24, 2015.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Singapore has increased the re-employment age from 62 to 65, and this is set to rise to 67 by 2017.

The re-employment of retirees serves to partially meet Singapore's general manpower needs, and provides seniors a continued source of income. This also allows them to build their retirement nest egg; it is a win-win situation born out of necessity.

As older workers approach their retirement age and if their financial situation does not permit them to retire, continuing to work is the only choice. They are put through the same grind and expectations of them do not change.

Yet from the time they hit 50, their Central Provident Fund contributions are cut and, thus, their actual remuneration too. The cut increases right to the time that they reach retirement age.

In the civil service, those at 62, if re-employed, are under a new contract. Their annual leave and medical leave entitlements are cut. I can understand the premise that seniors are expected to fall sick more often and, thus, their medical leave entitlement is moderated. But why cut their annual leave when they are at an age when they should be having more time to perhaps smell the proverbial roses?

Holidays to faraway places are for those who can afford it. But for most seniors, how they spend their leave can be as simple as taking short community-organised excursions, or spending time with their grandchildren. Why begrudge them the leave entitlement that they have accumulated over the many years of service?

The majority of Singaporeans may not be able to afford to retire with their current savings. They will have to continue working past the retirement age. It will be a norm, if it is not already happening.

I hope that the Government will look into the needs of the seniors in re-employment. Reducing their pay, their leave and adding to the stigma of getting old, while advertising otherwise, are some areas that need to be addressed.

The consideration for seniors, as with all employees, should be whether they are up to the mark.

Raymond De Silva

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Look into needs of seniors in re-employment'. Print Edition | Subscribe