Employment rate of seniors aged 65 and above increased last year: Tan See Leng

The employment rate of those aged 55 to 64 has also held steady at over 67 per cent. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The employment rate of those aged 65 and above increased from 27.6 per cent in 2019 to 28.5 per cent in 2020, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 5).

The employment rate of those aged 55 to 64 has held steady at over 67 per cent, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

This is comparable with the average of the top three Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, said Dr Tan, who was responding to questions from Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) and Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

Ms Tan had asked about the trends and support for senior re-employment and Ms Yeo asked about how many had benefited from the Senior Worker Support Package introduced in 2020, which has four schemes.

Dr Tan said that for the Senior Employment Credit which provides employers wage offsets of up to 8 per cent for hiring senior workers aged 55 and above, 482,000 senior workers have benefited so far.

Since the scheme started on Jan 1, 2021, close to $150 million has been disbursed to 86,000 employers.

For the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant, that encourages employers to implement a higher internal retirement age and re-employment age above the statutory minimum, 21,000 senior workers from 2,800 companies have benefited from it between July 1, 2020, and Aug 31, 2021.

More than 19,000 senior workers in about 2,000 companies have also benefited from the Part-time Re-employment Grant from July 1, 2020 to Aug 31, 2021.

The grant supports employers who commit to a part-time re-employment policy whenever eligible senior workers request for it.

With healthy take-up rates, the Government topped up over $200 million for both the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant and the Part-time Re-employment Grant in February this year, said Dr Tan.

This was on top of $100 million committed to these grants in 2020.

The last scheme under the package is the CPF Transition Offset, that will take effect in 2022. It will provide employers with transitionary wage offset equivalent to 50 per cent of the increase in employer CPF contribution rates.

CPF contribution rates for senior workers aged above 55 to 70 will be raised by up to two percentage points with effect from Jan 1, 2022.

In line with the 2019 recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers, the retirement age and re-employment age will be increased to 63 and 68 respectively, from July 1, 2022.

Dr Tan also noted that there are schemes to help mature and senior workers stay employable, as well as support for employers who are expanding local hiring amid the current economic and labour market uncertainty.

Dr Tan See Leng speaking in Parliament on Oct 5, 2021. PHOTO: MCI

He said: "With employers continuing to reskill their senior workers and making every effort to retain and hire them, with society supporting their choice to remain active in work, our seniors can continue to participate actively in all spheres of life."

Ms Yeo also asked if there was an update on preparations to raise the retirement age to 70 by the end of the decade, given that more seniors may have to push back their retirement due to challenges to their livelihoods arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Tan said the Manpower Ministry is working closely with the Health Ministry to study how to maintain healthy ageing and productivity, adding that there is a "very clear, sustained path" to raise the retirement age eventually to 65 and re-employment age to 70.

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