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Final Report of the Tripartite Committee on Older Workers

Tripartite Committee Recommends Extensive Package of Measures to Intensify Efforts to Enhance Employability of Older Workers


The Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers1, chaired by Minister of State for Education and Manpower Mr Gan Kim Yong, has released its final report with an extensive package of recommendations to enhance the employability of older workers. The Government has accepted the Committee's recommendations.

Key Recommendations

2.   The Committee's recommendations are grouped into four key strategic thrusts:

a) Thrust 1: Expand employment opportunities for older workers
b) Thrust 2: Enhance the cost competitiveness of older workers
c) Thrust 3: Raise skills and value of older workers
d) Thrust 4: Shape positive perceptions towards older workers

3.   The Committee's key recommendations include introducing legislative changes within five years to facilitate opportunities for older workers to continue working beyond the age of 62; enhancing WDA's ADVANTAGE! Scheme; expanding the employment opportunities of older women and enhancing their employability; a higher Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payout to low income workers above the age of 55; and expanding the promotion of fair employment practices through a Tripartite Centre for Fair Employment (TAFEP) and instituting an award to recognise companies for implementing fair employment practices.

Introduce Legislative Changes within Five Years To Facilitate Opportunities for Older Workers to Work Beyond the Age of 62

4.   Legislation can be a powerful signal and tool to shape behaviour and drive corporate practices. But, as shown by the experience of other countries, legislation is in itself not a panacea for dealing with the multiple challenges faced by older workers. Legislation must therefore be complemented by commensurate efforts to ensure that the ground is suitably prepared and businesses can adjust appropriately to new legislation to achieve a higher effective retirement age.

5.   The Committee thus recommends that the Government introduce legislative changes within 5 years to facilitate opportunities for older workers to work beyond age 62. In deciding on the final form of legislation, the Government should assess the progress made over the next 5 years, as well as the prevailing economic environment. The actual form of legislative changes should be decided after assessing the progress of efforts and the response from companies and workers. One approach could be to implement legislation to obligate companies to re-employ workers when they reach retirement age (similar to that introduced in Japan). But we should remain open to other ideas which may be better suited to Singapore's economic needs and industrial climate.

6.   In the meantime, within the next 5 years, the Committee will take a tripartite approach to encourage as many employers as possible to voluntarily implement policies and processes that will facilitate older workers to continue working beyond age 62.

Enhanced ADVANTAGE! Scheme

7.   The Committee recommends that the ADVANTAGE! Scheme be enhanced to lend greater support to companies to recruit and retain older workers and facilitate them to work beyond age 62. The Committee proposes an increased funding of up to $400,000 per company, up from $300,000 previously. The scheme will also be streamlined to support companies' efforts on three broad fronts:  (1) recruiting more older workers (2) retaining older workers, with (3) a greater emphasis on facilitating the re-employment of workers beyond age 62. Companies would be given funding to support the implementation of HR policies and systems to facilitate the recruitment, retention and re-employment of older workers. The Committee also recommends that the ADVANTAGE! scheme run for three more years up to end 2010.

Expand Employment Opportunities and Enhance the Employability of Older Women

8.   The Committee recognises that targeted assistance to encourage women to return to the workforce is needed to raise female employment rates. NTUC has earlier formed a "Women Back To Work" Committee to look at specific measures to help women to remain in or return to the workforce. To give a sharper focus to enhancing the employability of women, the Committee recommends that current efforts be consolidated into a national programme. The Committee therefore proposes that NTUC's "Women Back to Work" Committee be elevated to a Tripartite Workgroup, led by NTUC and with participation and support of employers and the Government.

Consider a Higher Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Payout to Low Income Workers Above the Age of 55

9.   Currently, older full time workers aged above 45 years who earn $1,000 or less are the principal target group of the WIS and receive higher WIS benefits. The Committee recommends giving older low wage workers above the age of 55 years a higher WIS payout when the scheme is reviewed in 3 years' time. This would provide this group with an even greater incentive to work, more take-home income and further build up their retirement adequacy.

Tripartite Centre to Drive Fair Employment Practices

10.   The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) will expand its activities in promoting fair employment practices and reaching out to more companies and workers. Its efforts will be coordinated under a Tripartite Centre for Fair Employment. The centre will serve as a focal point to promote awareness of fair employment practices, receive public feedback and give advice on fair employment practices, as well as provide assistance to employers who are keen to adopt good employment practices. TAFEP will also look into instituting a national award to recognise companies with the most progressive and fair employment practices.

Implementing the Recommendations and New Target

11.   To co-ordinate and oversee the implementation of its recommendations, the Committee will continue its work for another five years. It will work towards raising the employment rate for residents aged 55 to 64 to the medium-term target of 65%. The Committee will also work closely with the Ministerial Committee on Ageing to tackle the issues of an ageing population in a holistic manner.

1 The Committee was appointed by the Minister for Manpower in March 2005 to recommend measures to enhance the employability of older workers. On 26 January 2006, the Committee presented its interim report to the Government.