Forum: Rights and fairness play a role in retirement and re-employment

There are two key issues in the debate on the changes to the retirement and re-employment ages - rights and fairness (Retirement and re-employment ages to be raised to 65 and 70, Nov 2).

Having a statutory retirement age does not mean that employers must keep employees on the payroll. The onus is on employees to continue to bring value to the table.

To have a better chance of doing this, employees need to continue to learn, re-learn and unlearn.

Staying relevant and employable is the responsibility of employees, not employers.

Hence, workers do not have the right to remain on the payroll until the statutory retirement age. They have to earn this privilege. Conversely, employers do not have the right to decide on when an employee should retire.

There also seems to be a tendency to relate biological age to competency. It is assumed that because an employee is at a certain age, employers therefore have to re-design jobs, which generally lead to a reduction in responsibilities and salary.

This is a misconception. The exception is when there is actually a decrease in either physical or mental capacity that warrants a job re-design.

The issue of fairness then comes into play. It is only fair that both employer and employee agree on the job scope that needs to be performed, and the value of that particular job - that is, the salary.

This review needs to be done at least 12 months before any decision is taken.

If there is no change in the job scope, there should not be any salary revision. If the job re-design leads to a reduction in the job scope, then it is only logical to revise the salary downwards.

Employers, unions and workers need to play an active role in the topics of retirement and re-employment. A healthy way to have these conversations is not to focus on rights, but instead on alignment of interests.

Paul Heng

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