Stop seeing older workers as hindrance to the young

I could not agree more with Professor Sattar Bawany that employers need to change their attitude towards hiring, compensating and retaining older workers (Weed out hidden ageist bias in the workplace; Feb 26).

Many seniors are prompted by caution to work longer to save for their retirement.

However, despite changes to the Retirement and Re-employment Act, older workers are still not receiving the protection from age discrimination by employers.

Under this law, employers still have the flexibility to transfer older staff to their subsidiaries or other companies, and may also terminate them with financial compensation, if the first two options are deemed unfeasible.

As long as there are no specific anti-discrimination laws in place, making official complaints are nothing more than a waste of the older worker's time.

More companies are citing ongoing business restructuring and softer economic conditions as the main reasons for laying off older workers.

Today's elderly were once young adults who contributed to government coffers. These contributions helped today's youth have subsidised education, among other benefits. Young Singaporeans must keep this in mind and be gracious.

Discriminatory practices against older workers may even be seen by younger employees as a necessary evil.

The young and the old do have competing interests.

Given the current shorter cycles between economic growth and downturn, employment opportunities are somewhat limited for fresh graduates, with fewer white collar jobs opening up to replace those of retiring employees.

Younger employees aiming to climb the corporate ladder may see older co-workers as a hindrance to their ambitions.

Companies may see the displacement of mature workers as providing opportunities, removing obstacles to gainful employment and helping young adults to join the middle class and contribute to the economy as taxpayers.

But, as Ms Agnes Sng Hwee Lee pointed out (Younger generation mustn't begrudge help to seniors; Feb 7), today's elderly were once young adults who contributed to government coffers.

These contributions helped today's youth have subsidised education, among other benefits. Young Singaporeans must keep this in mind and be gracious.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2018, with the headline 'Stop seeing older workers as hindrance to the young'. Print Edition | Subscribe