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Oral Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Effectiveness of Existing Fair Employment Guidelines in Protecting Older PMEs

Notice Paper No. 136 Of 2015 For The Sitting On 17 Aug 2015 Question No. 608 For Oral Answer

MP: Mrs Lina Chiam

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the guidelines of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) are adequate to protect older workers since PMETs accounted for 51% of the layoffs last year; and (b) whether there is a need to legislate policies to safeguard the interest of these workers.


  1. Under the Retirement and Re-employment Act, it is already an offence to dismiss an employee who is below the age of 62 years on the grounds of age. Employers are obliged to offer re-employment to their employees who are turning 62 up till age 65. If employers are not able to offer re-employment, they are required to make an Employment Assistance Payment to the workers, based on the quantum recommended by the Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees. In year ending June 2014, nearly all (99%) employees who turned 62 were offered re-employment. We are also looking to raise the re-employment age to 67 in the next 2 to 3 years.
  2. Having said this, more needs to be done to change the mindsets of employers against ageism. This requires determined and sustained efforts by companies, co-workers and the community. Tripartite partners, through the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), will continue in our efforts to help employers build capabilities and reinforce positive perceptions of older workers. The “Tap into a Wealth of Experience” campaign launched by the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers in June 2014 has resulted in some positive mindset changes amongst employers and older employees.
  3. The Government also adopts a two-pronged approach to support older workers. First, the Special Employment Credit, or SEC, provides subsidies to employers to hire older workers. Today, employers receive an SEC of up to 8.5% of the wages of every Singaporean employee aged above 50 earning up to $4,000 per month. The SEC was further enhanced at Budget 2015 to provide employers with an additional 3%-point of wage subsidy for hiring Singaporean workers aged 65 and above, i.e. up to a total of 11.5% of wages. 
  4. Second, there are measures in place to help older PMEs re-skill and secure new employment. We currently support employers who hire mature PMEs in Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) by funding 90% of their monthly salary, subject to a cap of $4,000, during the period of training. The P-Max programme also supports the entry of PMEs into suitable jobs in our small and medium-sized enterprises. 
  5. In addition, we have recently announced the Career Support Programme (CSP) to provide mature Singaporean PMEs, who have been looking for jobs for at least six months, greater opportunities to access mid-level and above jobs. Starting from 1 October 2015, employers who employ mature PMEs, who have been looking for jobs for at least six months, in mid-level jobs that pay at least $4,000, will be given wage support. The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will also collaborate with and provide incentives to private search and placement firms to help this group of older PMEs access more job opportunities.
  6. We encourage employers to take full advantage of these schemes.