Friday, 27 July 2018

Gardens by the Bay to raise workers’ retirement age to 65 from 2019

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng wants more companies to voluntarily raise retirement age
Labour chief lauds company for allowing staff to work to age of 65, from 62 previously
By Yuen Sin, The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2018

Gardens by the Bay is voluntarily raising the retirement age of its workers to 65, from the statutory requirement of 62 - a move commended by labour chief Ng Chee Meng, who called on more employers to take the same step.

A raised retirement age allows older workers to continue to earn an income and contribute, he said.

"(Older workers) have experience and are valuable assets. Employers should value and re-employ our older workers," said Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

"NTUC fully supports this initiative by the Gardens. It is something that we hope other employers will follow," he added.

A unionised company under the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union (AREU), Gardens by the Bay currently has 20 workers who are above the age of 60. It is a not-for-profit company.

Its pledge to raise the retirement age to 65 was formalised yesterday - in a memorandum of understanding signed between Gardens by the Bay and AREU, and witnessed by Mr Ng. It will take effect next year.

According to NTUC, about 20 unionised companies have either voluntarily raised their retirement ages or do not stipulate any retirement age in workers' employment contracts, which means that they can work for as long as they wish to.

For example, the Singapore American School, ComfortDelGro Group and Bukit Timah Saddle Club have raised their retirement ages to 67.

Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay does not stipulate a retirement age in its employment contracts.

The statutory retirement age has been 62 for nearly two decades. It was last raised in 1999 from 60 to 62. But companies must offer re-employment to eligible workers up to age 67. This threshold was raised from 65 last year.

Some employers re-employ older workers on the same terms, while others offer re-employment with reduced salary and benefits.

In May, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced the formation of a work group that will address older workers' concerns as Singapore's workforce ages.

Among other things, it will consider Singapore's next moves on the retirement and re-employment age, and review the longer-term relevance of these policies. The work group consists of high-level representatives from the unions, employers and the Government.

Mr Ng said yesterday that NTUC intends to raise a number of issues at the work group's meetings, including the need to develop clearer guidelines on adjustments to the employment terms of re-employed workers.

Older workers are one of three groups of workers that Mr Ng said he wanted to focus on after he was elected labour chief in May. The other two groups are low-wage workers and middle-aged middle-income workers.

Mr Abdul Aziz Ismail, 61, an engineering manager at Gardens by the Bay, had been planning to retire when he turns 62 next year as he was not sure if he would be eligible for re-employment. "It's a relief to know that (the retirement age) has been raised to 65. I would like to work here for a longer time as I like the working environment," he said.

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