Pass anti-discrimination laws to protect older workers

   Removing older staff from their jobs after they have crossed a defined age may lead to companies losing some of their most valuable assets, says the writer.
Removing older staff from their jobs after they have crossed a defined age may lead to companies losing some of their most valuable assets, says the writer.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Cheong Wing Kiat suggested several courses of action the Government could take to encourage employers to retain older workers that appear good on paper (Incentivise firms to retain older workers, March 8).

However, as long as there are no specific anti-discrimination laws in place, competent older workers are not receiving adequate protection from discrimination based on their age rather than their ability.

Changes to the Retirement and Re-employment Act represent official acknowledgement that most current white collar work is knowledge- or technology-based. Employees are theoretically able to continue their careers well into their sixties.

But even though the Government has long acknowledged the problem of ageism in Singapore, it has maintained that introducing anti-discriminatory laws could increase business costs and undermine our economic competitiveness.

Such an assertion does not appear to be accurate since the global competitiveness of nations with anti-discrimination laws, such as the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan, Finland and Sweden, remains relatively stable.

Most employees approaching retirement age possess a wealth of experience and are usually extremely dedicated to their work. Not only are they as competent as their younger colleagues, but they likely understand the company, its customers and critical processes better.

Removing older staff from their jobs after they have crossed a defined age may lead to companies losing some of their most valuable assets.

The current generation of older workers are developing creativity and sharpening their abilities through retraining and reskilling to give them an edge and measure of longevity at the workplace.

While retirement is as inevitable as the relentless passage of time, it is still better to leave it up to seniors to decide when to call time on their careers.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock