Saturday 4 October 2014

Public service takes lead in raising rehiring age to 67 from 1 Jan 2015

By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 3 Oct 2014

SINGAPORE'S largest employer, the Public Service Division (PSD), is throwing its weight behind the national push to eventually raise the re-employment age to 67.

From Jan 1 next year, eligible public servants will be offered re-employment after they turn 65, up to the age of 67.

The move will benefit about 800 officers who will turn 65 each year over the next three years, said the PSD yesterday.

The public service employs 139,000 officers. Of them, about 1,000 are older than 65 and are already re-employed.

The announcement was welcomed by labour chief Lim Swee Say yesterday as a signal for companies in the private sector to do the same for their own workers.

The PSD's move came three days after the Government said that it will, from next year, encourage more firms to rehire workers past the age of 65 by giving incentives to those who do so.

Public service officers who reach the statutory retirement age of 62 are currently offered re- employment up to the age of 65. This is provided for in the law.

Public agencies are already voluntarily re-employing eligible officers - who want to continue working and can contribute to the work of their agencies - beyond the age of 65, said the PSD. So, yesterday's announcement formalises such arrangements.

Eligible officers who wish to continue working can do so on the same job with the same pay and benefits, if the job is available.

Otherwise, they will be helped to find suitable jobs within or outside their agency. If no position is available, the agency will pay them an amount to tide them over while they look for another job.

Unionists like Amalgamated Union of Public Employees general secretary Ma Wei Cheng applauded the news, and the speed at which it will take effect. With the change, older workers will be rehired on a more regular and less ad-hoc basis, he said. This will give them greater peace of mind.

Among the 800 who will benefit next year is National Parks Board senior tree inspector Mathichandran Ramakrishnan, 64.

Said the certified arborist, who has been re-employed on a yearly basis since he turned 62: "I didn't think about whether I would get to keep working. I left everything to fate. But now, I'm very happy that I can continue to work past 65 in this job, which I enjoy a lot."

Mr Lim, National Trades Union Congress secretary-general, told reporters at an awards ceremony yesterday that the PSD's move had a "very strong signalling effect" on the private sector, and will encourage them to get on board.

He said: "Raising the re- employment age to 67 is going to happen some time in the future, even though we are not ready to pass the legislation today."

When that happens, it will be mandatory for firms to offer to rehire workers after they turn 65. They now do so voluntarily.

So, it is important for companies to begin to adjust policies for older workers now, so the transition can take place smoothly.

Employers are open to rehiring older workers but are worried about costs, such as wages and medical bills.

Responding to concerns over costly health-care benefits, Mr Lim pointed to the proposed MediShield Life, which he said would ease the burden on employers and better protect workers.

Separately, Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat said companies tend to be more cautious about rehiring workers over the age of 65 as their business requirements may change each year, depending on economic conditions.

But he was confident that more bosses will do so, as feedback from those who have done so has been largely positive.

9 in 10 civil servants reaching retirement age offered re-employment: DPM Teo
Channel NewsAsia, 8 Oct 2014

Since July 2011, nine in 10 civil servants reaching the retirement age have been offered re-employment. This update was given in Parliament by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Civil Service Teo Chee Hean on Wednesday (Oct 8).

Mr Teo said the approach in the public service is to provide re-employment to all officers who meet the performance criteria, conduct criteria and are medically fit to continue working.

Government agencies are also encouraged to re-employ the majority of officers in their existing jobs and at last drawn pay as far as possible. They are allowed to offer re-employment at lower grades for the more senior grades, only if the post is no longer available or needs to be freed up for leadership renewal.

Last Thursday (Oct 2), the Public Service Division announced that all eligible officers will be offered re-employment till the age of 67.

Responding to Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong on hiring persons with disabilities, Mr Teo said the Public Service Division is working with the Social and Family Development Ministry to hire and tap on their "diverse abilities".

Ms Chia is also the president of SPD, formerly the Society for the Physically Disabled.

"Recruitment into the public service is based on individual merit through fair and open competition. We do employ officers with disabilities in the service and are prepared to do more," said Mr Teo.

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