WhyItMatters

The new age of re-employment

Older workers have reason to cheer this week.

Those who turn 65 from July can keep on working until age 67, if they wish to.

Parliament has passed a law that requires employers to rehire such workers if they have performed satisfactorily and are healthy.

If not, they are to be given a golden handshake.

The new law affects not just older workers, but will also lengthen the work lifespan of younger ones too.

Amid the changes, what is little known is that the Government had said in 1993 that it would gradually raise the retirement age to 67 by 2003.

That did not happen. Instead, the retirement age was raised to 62 in January 1999, and stayed there.

Meanwhile, the Government's thinking changed and re-employment was introduced for workers when they turned 62.

In 2012, the law governing re-employment took effect, but till today, many still confuse the re-employment age for the retirement age.

In effect, workers still retire at age 62.

But since January 2012, employers have had to rehire these retired workers, in the same or a similar job, until the re-employment age of 65, as long as their work is satisfactory and they are healthy.

This week, the law was changed to raise the re-employment age to 67 from July.

The move, however, comes too late for two groups.

One is the pioneer cohort that turned 62 in 2012, when the re-employment law first kicked in.

Many would have stopped working in 2015 when they turned 65. They would be 67 this year - too old to benefit from the latest change.

The other group comprises those who turned 65 last year and before July this year.

But they may yet receive help. The Manpower Ministry is reviewing the incentives for employers who voluntarily rehire these workers. There is no word yet on where the review is heading or when it would be completed, but its outcome could not come soon enough for these older workers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'The new age of re-employment'. Print Edition | Subscribe