Suggestions to raise, remove retirement age

Parliament: Many older workers not ready to retire, says unionist

Veteran unionist Arasu Duraisamy has suggested raising both the retirement age and re-employment age to help older workers stay employed.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the Nominated MP said the retirement age could go up from 62 to 65, and the re-employment age from 67 to 70.

Mr Arasu, a member of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) central committee, said: "Many of the older workers have told us they are not ready to retire for good."

Some of them, he added, need to support their families, others hope to build up funds for healthcare or retirement, and many say they are still healthy, physically able and want to be gainfully employed.

Said Mr Arasu: "The extension of the retirement age and re-employment age provides certainty to workers who want to continue working, and allows a longer runway for employers to plan for training and upskilling, as well as adapt to digital transformation holistically."

Mr Arasu was one of three MPs who urged the Government to make changes to the age of retirement and re-employment to provide greater certainty for older workers.

He lauded recent measures to increase support for older workers, such as increased annual payouts from the Workfare Income Supplement scheme for those with low wages, and the topping up of the Special Employment Credit to coax employers to hire seniors.

But Mr Arasu added: "While these are helpful to older workers, the best support is ensuring they have a good job."

More than 20 firms, including Gardens by the Bay, have raised the retirement age to 65, and some firms have no contractual retirement age.

Mr Arasu said: "From time to time, the labour movement also receives appeals from workers seeking assistance to extend their re-employment contracts.

"I urge the civil service and other government-linked companies to quickly take the lead."

He also spoke about the importance of training workers and educating those in their 50s.

Mr Arasu said: "We need to change their mindset and help educate them that training and skills upgrading are necessary for them to remain relevant. In view of digital transformation and an ageing workforce, ensuring that both SMEs and their workers are pro-training is especially important."

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline Many older workers not ready to retire, says unionist. Subscribe