Parliament: No let-up in MOM push for age-friendly work practices

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling cited Smarte Carte as an example of how companies have restructured jobs to better support the employment of older workers.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling cited Smarte Carte as an example of how companies have restructured jobs to better support the employment of older workers.PHOTO: GOV.SG

Significant resources invested to support older S'poreans and their employers: Low Yen Ling

At Smarte Carte, a company that provides trolley management and baggage services at Changi Airport, more than half of its 300 employees are seniors and the average age of the staff is 65.

There is also no compulsory retirement age and employees receive the same pay even after they turn 62.

To cater to its mature workers, the Singapore chapter of the United States-based firm has redesigned its work processes and uses mainly diagrams and videos to train the seniors in bite-sized sessions.

Supervisors also tailor their pre-shift briefings to reinforce processes and key messages that are important for the older workers' safety and security.

Smarte Carte was cited by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling in Parliament yesterday as an example of how companies have restructured jobs to better support the employment of older workers.

Ms Low was responding to a motion put forth by MPs on the topic of ageing with purpose. MPs who spoke on the matter, such as Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC), Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang), called for more companies to redesign jobs and improve working conditions for older workers.

Ms Low said there will be "no let-up in the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) efforts to foster age-friendly and progressive work practices among employers".

DIFFERENT CONCERNS

While older workers desire to work as long as they can and are able to, younger workers shared with us that they do worry about how that may affect their career progression.

SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR MANPOWER LOW YEN LING

She said the Government has invested significant resources to provide funding and support for older Singaporeans and their employers. Through the Special Employment Credit scheme, for example, employers hiring older workers receive wage offsets of up to 11 per cent of their monthly wages.

The WorkPro Age Management Grant and Job Redesign Grant help employers implement age-friendly practices and restructure jobs for mature employees, Ms Low added.

She said MOM is reviewing the Special Employment Credit and WorkPro schemes and will provide more details when ready.

Ms Low also gave an update on the work of the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers, which was formed last year.

 
 
 
 

In the last eight months, the workgroup had gathered feedback and input from more than 500 people, including union leaders, human resource professionals, trade and industry associations, and small and medium-sized enterprises, she said.

"The exercise revealed diverse wishes that need to be balanced against the needs and expectations of different stakeholders.

"For instance, while older workers desire to work as long as they can and are able to, younger workers shared with us that they do worry about how that may affect their career progression."

Ms Low said the tripartite work group's aim is to get a win-win outcome. "We need to strike a healthy balance between meeting the aspirations of our older workers and that of the younger workers, the need for organisational renewal, redesigning jobs and how wages and benefits can be flexibly adjusted."

Replying to Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar's (Ang Mo Kio GRC) call to raise Central Provident Fund contribution rates for those aged 55 and older, Ms Low said the work group was studying it. "For self-employed persons, we are going to make it easier for them to make Medisave contributions by implementing a 'contribute-as-you-earn' model."

The Government would pilot this with its self-employed contractors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'No let-up in MOM push for age-friendly work practices'. Print Edition | Subscribe