NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng wants more companies to voluntarily raise retirement age

"(Older workers) have experience and are valuable assets. Employers should value and re-employ our older workers," said labour chief Ng Chee Meng.
"(Older workers) have experience and are valuable assets. Employers should value and re-employ our older workers," said labour chief Ng Chee Meng.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Labour chief Ng Chee Meng has called on more employers to voluntarily raise the retirement age of their workers beyond the statutory requirement of 62, as he commended Gardens by the Bay for being the latest company to do so.

A raised retirement age will allow older workers to continue working, earn an income and contribute, he said.

Mr Ng was speaking on Wednesday (July 25) at the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding in which Gardens by the Bay, a not-for-profit company, pledged to raise its retirement age to 65 from 2019.

"NTUC fully supports this initiative by the Gardens. It is something that we hope other employers will follow," said Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

"(Older workers) have experience and are valuable assets. Employers should value and re-employ our older workers," he added.

A unionised company under the Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union, Gardens by the Bay currently has 20 workers who are above the age of 60.

According to NTUC, about 20 unionised companies have either voluntarily raised their retirement ages, or do not stipulate any retirement age in workers’ employment contracts, which means that they can work for as long as they wish to. 

For instance, the Singapore American School, ComfortDelGro Group and Bukit Timah Saddle Club have raised their retirement ages to 67. 
Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay does not stipulate any retirement age in workers’ employment contracts. 

The statutory retirement age has been fixed at 62 for the past two decades. It was last raised in 1999 from 60 to 62. However, companies must offer re-employment to eligible workers up to age 67. This threshold was raised from 65 to 67 in July last year.

In May, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced the formation of a work group that will address older workers' concerns as Singapore's workforce ages.

Among other things, it will consider Singapore's next moves on the retirement and re-employment age, and review the longer-term relevance of these policies.

The work group consists of high-level representatives from the unions, employers and the Government.

Mr Ng said on Wednesday that the NTUC will work with this work group to consider issues affecting older workers, including the need to develop clearer guidelines on adjustments to the employment terms of re-employed workers.

While the work group has not yet set a deadline for the review of these guidelines, it will hold its first meeting on this issue next week, he said.

Older workers are one of three groups of workers that Mr Ng said he wants to focus on after he was elected labour chief in May. The other two groups are low-wage workers and middle-aged middle-income workers.

Mr Abdul Aziz Ismail, 61, an engineering manager at Gardens by the Bay, had been planning to retire when he turns 62 next June as he was not sure if he would be eligible for re-employment. 

“It’s a relief to know that this has been raised to 65. I would like to work here for a longer time as I like the working environment,” he said.