Incentivise firms to retain older workers

Older employees often lack the time, money and knowledge of the Employment Act and Retirement and Re-employment Act to fight their employers in court or raise issues with the Manpower Ministry.
Older employees often lack the time, money and knowledge of the Employment Act and Retirement and Re-employment Act to fight their employers in court or raise issues with the Manpower Ministry.PHOTO: ST FILE

That higher retirement and re-employment ages will motivate employers to invest in skills upgrading and job redesigning for older workers is a desirable but unlikely scenario (Retirement, re-employment ages set to rise, March 6).

Employers, advised by HR managers and lawyers, are capable of bypassing statutory retirement and re-employment ages through various means to coerce older employees to opt for voluntary early retirement, offering them so-called goodwill or ex gratia early retirement packages.

Some examples of these include setting unachievable key performance indicators for older workers, humiliating them during job performance reviews, making them report to former subordinates or junior colleagues, lowering their designations and making their jobs redundant.

Older employees often lack the time, money and knowledge of the Employment Act and Retirement and Re-employment Act to fight their employers in court or raise issues with the Manpower Ministry.

They will have no choice but to accept the early retirement packages and leave the companies.

Instead, the Government can motivate employers to invest in older employees through tax deductions, perhaps by giving quadruple tax deductions on approved training expenses spent in enhancing older employees' employability, and re-employment wage credits.

Cheong Wing Kiat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'Incentivise firms to retain older workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe