PARLIAMENT: Debate on ministries' budgets: Manpower

Grants for companies that support employment of seniors

Progressive companies that raise both their retirement and re-employment age ahead of the national schedule can receive up to $250,000 from a new Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant.

A separate Part-Time Re-Employment Grant will also provide up to $125,000 to companies that commit to providing part-time re-employment opportunities to eligible workers who ask for them.

These are among measures to support senior employment which Manpower Minister Josephine Teo detailed yesterday, during the debate on her ministry's budget.

They are part of the $1.3 billion Senior Worker Support Package announced in the Budget statement last month.

Mrs Teo said the package, which will run over three years until 2022, is expected to benefit about 110,000 companies and 570,000 workers.

The early adopter grant will give companies, which raise the ages by three or more years above the prevailing statutory ages, $5,000 per senior worker aged 60 and older, capped at 50 workers.

The funding is $2,500 for those who raise it by two years above the prevailing statutory ages, and $1,000 for those who raise it by a year.

Companies are also required to change their human resource policies and employment contracts, and communicate the changes to employees.

The statutory retirement age will rise gradually from 62 to 65 by 2030 while the re-employment age will move from 67 to 70. The first scheduled rise is on July 1, 2022, when the respective ages will go up to 63 and 68.

The part-time re-employment grant comes after the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers found that senior workers wanted to reduce their work intensity gradually as they approach retirement.

"They are also more prepared to remain in the workforce if they can undertake part-time work arrangements during the re-employment phase," Mrs Teo added.

Many employers, however, do not have work structures and processes to support part-time options, so the work group felt employers need to be encouraged to make changes, she said.

A total of $100 million has been set aside for these two grants over three years, Mrs Teo said.

The other two parts of the Senior Worker Support Package, announced in the Budget statement, are a Senior Employment Credit, which provides wage offsets of up to 8 per cent to employers that hire Singaporeans aged 55 and older, and a Central Provident Fund (CPF) transition offset scheme, which covers half of the increase in employer CPF contribution rates next year.

Employers will contribute either 0.5 percentage point or one percentage point more for workers aged 55 to 70 next year, based on the worker's age.

The move is to raise gradually during this decade the CPF contribution rates of those aged 55 to 70 until those aged 60 and younger enjoy the full CPF rates.

Mrs Teo also announced that the retirement age of auxiliary police officers and private-sector firefighters will be reviewed, suggesting that they could work longer if they wished to.

Her ministry will work with the Home Affairs Ministry, employers and unions on the review.

Her remarks come a day after Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament that the retirement age for Home Affairs uniformed officers, like the police, will be raised to 58 by 2030, up from 55 currently.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said that the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant will provide $5,000 per senior worker aged 60 and older for companies which raise the retirement and re-employment ages by three or more years ahead of the national schedule. It also said the funding is $2,500 for those who raise it two years early, and $1,000 for a year. This is incorrect. The article has been amended to reflect the correct criteria for determining the funding amount. We are sorry for the error.
 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2020, with the headline 'Grants for companies that support employment of seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe