Wednesday 31 July 2013

No pay cut for junior civil servants re-hired at 62: Public Service Division

But some senior officers will have salaries reduced by up to 15 per cent
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 30 Jul 2013

FROM next month, junior officers in the public sector who turn 62 will not suffer a pay cut when they are re-employed, a move that the labour movement had called for a week ago.

These Division III officers, who do mostly clerical and front-line customer service work in ministries, earn between $1,300 and $2,100 a month.

There are about 11,700 of them in the public sector, but most are below the retirement age of 62.

However, the policy change that aims to coax older workers to continue working does not automatically apply to senior officers.

The Public Service Division (PSD) said yesterday that while more senior officers at Division I and II will continue at the same grade and salary, some will have their salaries reduced by up to 15 per cent.

The cut for these officers, who include teachers and management support officers, is in line with private sector practices, said the PSD, the human resource arm of the Government.

It also disclosed yesterday that the no-pay-cut policy was first applied to the lowest Division IV rung of officials like filing clerks since April last year.

About 130 of them were re-hired at their existing pay between April and December last year, it told The Straits Times.

As for senior officers, it gave figures to show that most did not suffer steep pay cuts.

Fewer than one in five of about 1,150 re-hired at lower pay last year had their salaries cut by more than 20 per cent. Only 1 per cent bore the full brunt of the 30 per cent reduction.

"With the revised terms (from next month), we hope to encourage more able officers to continue working after they turn 62," said Mr Tan Hoe Soon, a PSD director.

The National Trades Union Congress, in calling for the change, produced its poll of 118 unionised companies to show that eight in 10 did not reduce the pay of re-employed workers doing the same job.

Unionists yesterday cheered the PSD's move.

"The NTUC and public sector unions are happy that the PSD has responded positively to our feedback and calls to review its re-employment pay policy," said the labour movement's deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How.

Added the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees' general secretary Ma Wei Cheng: "Any employee who is offered a lower grade and lower pay has to have his roles and responsibilities reduced accordingly."

The chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower Zainudin Nordin described the change as a "positive step", but urged the PSD to continue to review the 15 per cent pay cut for senior officers. "The principle must still be to pay according to the job, not age," he said.

A school clerk in her 50s, who cannot speak to the media without permission, said she would now consider working after 62, since there is no pay cut.

"For those re-hired earlier at lower pay, I hope their salaries will be adjusted," she said. "Otherwise, it is unfair."


Salary for staff already re-hired to be reviewed
Govt will ensure they are not worse off when new pay terms kick in
By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 31 Jul 2013

THE public officers re-hired before the latest change in rules will not be short-changed.

The Government will review the salaries of some 1,150 officers who were re-employed when they turned 62 between July 2011 and December last year.

This is to ensure that they are not worse off when the new pay terms kick in tomorrow.

"Their salaries will be aligned to the new guidelines," a Public Service Division (PSD) spokesman told The Straits Times last night.

The PSD had announced on Monday that junior officers, such as clerks in the public sector, will not suffer a pay cut when they are re-employed at 62 years old.

Some senior officers like teachers and management support officers will still have their salaries reduced, but the cut will be capped at 15 per cent, down from 30 per cent now.

It is the right move to equalise the pay between existing officers and those re-hired under the new rules, said human resource analyst David Leong.

"It is good human resource practice to do so, otherwise some (workers) in the same cohort can feel disgruntled," said the managing director of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting. "Disgruntled employees can affect productivity."

But while the change is apace in the public sector, some private firms told The Straits Times yesterday that they will not take their cue from the Government's latest move. This is because some did not cut the pay of their re-hired workers in the first place.

A check with more than 20 large companies found that some re-employ their workers on the same terms after they turn 62 if they continue to do the same jobs.

These firms included ComfortDelGro Corp, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, StarHub, CapitaLand and Marina Bay Sands.

The companies cite various reasons for not slashing the pay of older workers. Re-hiring workers at the same terms provides "added certainty and peace of mind" to them, said a DBS spokesman.

Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat added: "Companies do not cut (the) salaries of workers who are in short supply."

But others, like Resorts World Sentosa and Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel, preferred to wait and see, saying they may make changes.

Among those that did not reply to The Straits Times were SingTel, Singapore Airlines and United Overseas Bank. PSA Corp and SMRT Corp declined to comment, with the latter citing a Singapore Exchange gag order as its reason. The transport firm released its quarterly financial results yesterday.

For Dr Moh Chong Tau, president and chief executive officer of precision engineering firm Makino Asia, the question of cutting older workers' pay should not have arisen at all. About 20 of the firm's 500 employees were re-hired at 62 without pay cuts.
"An employer who cuts the pay of older workers should remember that he will also grow old one day," said the 62-year-old.


Older colleagues tend to have lower absentee rates than younger ones. Some of them also possess the ability to mentor and coach younger workers.

- Ms Tammy Tan, ComfortDelGro's group corporate communications officer. Workers in the transport firm can work until 67 with no change to their employment terms.

Regardless of age, as long as they are willing and able to contribute in the same capacity, we want to be fair to them by offering the same remuneration.

- Ms Chan Hoi San, StarHub's senior vice-president of human resource

The decision to re-employ workers should be based on individual capability and skill sets, job function and health condition rather than solely on the age factor.

- Mr Thomas Chua, president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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