Forum reply: on Senior Workers
We refer to the letters “Better protection needed for workers at age 63” (Aug 12) by Mr Winston Chew Choon Teck and “Manage re-employment process for older workers better” (Aug 22) by Mr Ong Kim Bock.
To support senior workers in staying meaningfully engaged through work, employers are required by law to offer re-employment to eligible workers who have reached retirement age, up to the prevailing re-employment age of 68. The re-employment framework enables senior workers to continue working if they wish to, while allowing employers flexibility to adjust employment terms upon re-employment according to business needs.
If an employer has considered all re-employment options and is unable to identify a suitable job for the senior worker, the employer may offer an Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) as a last resort. This is to tide the senior worker over while he seeks alternative employment. The EAP quantum is carefully calibrated to avoid providing employers an easy alternative to offering re-employment or deterring them from employing senior workers nearing retirement age. Retrenchment benefits do not apply when a worker reaches retirement age.
We agree with Mr Ong on the importance of effective communication between employers and employees. Employers should inform a senior worker about their re-employment arrangement at least three months before retirement. Our tripartite partners have ramped up efforts to encourage employers to engage their senior workers even earlier through Structured Career Planning (SCP). SCP gives employers a process to understand senior workers’ career plans and identify skills gaps to better prepare them for re-employment. Details on SCP are at go.gov.sg/scpguide
The Ministry of Manpower introduced the Senior Employment Credit and the Part-Time Re-employment Grant to encourage employers to hire and retain senior workers. This grant in particular incentivises employers to implement SCP. The Singapore National Employers Federation also trains employers and human resources departments to implement SCP effectively. Employers can contact email@example.com for SCP training.
Workers who feel that they have received an unreasonable offer of re-employment can contact their union or the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (www.tal.sg/tadm/contact-us).
The Government will continue working closely with employers and employees to create age-inclusive workplaces that support seniors in continuing to work for as long as they wish and are able to.
Lee Chung Wei
Workplace Policy & Strategy Division
Ministry of Manpower
Better protection on job security for workers at age 63, The Straits Times Forum, 12 Aug 2023
I refer to the report on Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon’s response to a query by Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair on the rationale for workers who lose their retrenchment benefits entitlement to be entitled only to Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) when they reach 63 (Employment Assistance Payment should not be compared to retrenchment benefits, Aug 3).
I was previously a senior legal officer with a statutory board that retired me when I reached the statutory retirement age of 63 without offering me the option of re-employment on contract under the Retirement and Re-employment Act 1993.
I was shocked by this decision after working in the organisation for more than 18 years, as I had no reason to believe that I was not eligible to be offered re-employment on contract under the Act. No specific reasons were given, except that no suitable position could be found for me in the organisation, and the ones offered to me were not compatible with my experience and qualifications.
As I was already a senior legal officer at the top end of my pay scale, the EAP cap of $14,750 offered to me, presumably to assist me in finding a new job, is small comfort as my monthly take-home pay was higher.
At 63, it would be difficult for me to secure suitable employment commensurate with my experience and qualifications. I would have been better off being a unionised member under a collective agreement, as the employer would have to compensate me with retrenchment benefits of one month’s pay for every year of service, with a cap. Although I was a general branch member of my union, it could not assist me, nor did it succeed in its appeal to the senior management on my behalf.
Under the Act, I would have been entitled to work until 68 years if the employer had offered me re-employment under contract. Although there is a statutory recourse under the Act against the employer, I am not confident if any appeal would succeed.
I support the call for more protection for workers like me, as there is no job security when the employee reaches the statutory retirement age. The consequence of my retirement is no different from an employee being retrenched or having his services terminated.
Winston Chew Choon Teck
Manage re-employment process for older workers better, The Straits Times Forum, 22 Aug 2023
In the Forum letter “Better protection needed for workers at age 63” (Aug 12), the writer’s disappointment at not being able to secure re-employment compatible with his experience and qualification is understandable.
Most employees on reaching 63 wish to retain the same portfolio or its equivalent. However, they should also realise that market conditions or business planning might affect the company’s ability to do so.
A relative in the education field shared that because of lower course demand and enrolment, affected teaching staff had to accept business support roles on re-employment. Others have to assume smaller roles on re-employment because their companies want to implement succession planning. Given such business realities, employees might have to lower their expectations when seeking re-employment.
But it is also important for companies to provide and communicate more information on their re-employment decisions. Retirement and re-employment can be sensitive issues and those who are not re-employed or re-employed on less favourable terms will be unhappy and disappointed. Effective corporate communication is crucial to give them a level of comfort and allay their anxiety.
Perhaps the relevant work groups looking into the issues of older workers could consider having a more structured approach to help businesses manage and communicate better about re-employment.
Ong Kim Bock