Sunday, January 11, 2009

Singapore: Prime Minister Reenforces Need for Employers to Retain Older Workers

Addressing the AARP-Council for Third Age Conference "Reinventing Retirement Asia", Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged employers to let seniors work longer, focusing on legislation that will require employers to offer re-employment to workers for three more years (until 65), though not necessarily at the same job or pay. According to Lee, "[t]he best way for people to adjust to longer lifespans is to continue working for as long as they can, and to keep themselves occupied after formal retirement."

With respect to retirement age, Lee said that government has only limited abilities to change habits. Thus, even though Singapore's official retirement age is 62, only six out of every ten men are still working at 62, the rest having already retired earlier, while even fewer women work till 62, most having dropped out of the workforce much earlier to raise their families. Accordingly, Singapore is not legislating to further delay the retirement age, but to require employers to offer re-employment to workers at 62 for another three years until 65, though not necessarily in the same job or at the same pay. Other efforts may be more involved:
We can also do more to raise the employment rate of older women. It is often tough for women to continue working while raising a family, even if the husband carries his share of the household responsibilities. We can help by adopting more flexible work arrange¬ments, developing family-friendly workplace policies, and providing accessible and affordable childcare. We should also encourage older women to return to the workforce, through targeted outreach and retraining.
Source: Prime Minister's Office Speech (January 8, 2009)

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