Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ireland: Age Action Calls for Abolition of Mandatory Retirement Age

Age Action has issued a briefing paper and called for the abolition in Ireland of mandatory retirement clauses in that every year force workers out of their because of their age. Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “Mandatory retirement is simply age discrimination, forcing someone out of a job because they’ve reached some arbitrary age set by their employer."

The paper--"Mandatory Retirement: Age Action Briefing Paper No. 1"--sets out the legal and policy context for mandatory retirement clauses in Irish law and argues for their abolition. It explains that EU employment law forbids discrimination on the basis of age but a loophole allows Member States to treat workers differently if justified by a "legitimate aim." However, recent changes to the Irish pension system means that many victims of mandatory retirement clauses are not just losing their salaries, they’re losing out in State supports. As Justin Moran explained: “The Government raised the State Pension age from 65 to 66 and abolished the transition pension. This means a worker forced into retirement at the age of 65, the most common age chosen by employers, has no choice but to go on the dole for 12 months while waiting to receive their pension."
Justin Moran continued: “Courts have found that examples of a ‘legitimate aim’ can include forcing older workers onto the dole to make room for younger unemployed even though the evidence shows this does not lead to increased employment for younger people.

“Those countries with high rates of employment for older workers are also typically those with similar rates for young people.

“Government policy is to support longer working lives, to enable those who wish to work a little longer to do so, to value their contribution and their experience. But in practice, employers are permitted to get rid of older workers for no other reason than they turn 65."
Sources: Age Action Press Release (November 25, 2016); Irish Examiner "Age Action: End ‘ageist’ ban on working past 65" (November 25, 2016)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Report Calls for Workplace Innovation To Stem Early Retirements

Following a three year study--led by Nottingham Trent University with Workplace Innovation Limited (see WORKKAGE website)--aimed at preventing the loss of vital knowledge, skills and experience of increasingly aging workforces, an interim report recommends that measures be taken by employers to ensure older workers don’t become demotivated and head into early retirement. Specifically, in "Active working lives through workplace innovation practices" "WORKAGE aims to demonstrate that targeted workplace interventions to improve job design and work organization can facilitate enhanced engagement and retention of older workers and produce wider benefits for the organization and its employees."

Among other things, the report calls for innovate workplace practices:
  • The interplay between workplace practices and participative process is central for workplace innovation and its dual aim of promoting productivity and quality of working life;
  • WORKAGE developed interventions around four elements of innovative practices: jobs and teams; organizational structures, management and procedures; employee-driven improvement and innovation; and co-created leadership and employee voice;
  • the report's conceptual framework is that experienced quality of job and workplace practices will increase three critical states (work engagement, workability, and occupational outlook), which will, in turn, influence intentions to retire.
  • Especially important for improved work engagement and in turn retirement intentions are: (1) practices that are supportive of co-created leadership and employee voice, (2) practices that are supportive of quality jobs and teams, (3) higher job control, and (4) reduced physical job demands.
Source: Nottingham Trent University Press Release (November 28, 2016)

Hong Kong: Proposals Made to Scrap Public and Private Retirement Ages

According to a post in Time Out (Hong Kong), the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Ageing says the government and firms should scrap their retirement age for employees. According to the reporter, Rachel Lau:
Professor Chan Kar-choi, a lecturer at CUHK’s department of social work, who specialises in gerontology, tells us: “In terms of the society at large, I think Hong Kong’s productive force is dwindling because of this population change. In order to maintain enough people to engage in the labour force, it makes sense to expand the retirement age.”
Lau writes that although Hong Kong has no compulsory retirement age, the government recently increased the retirement age of new civil servants from 60 to 65, and that, in the private sector, the retirement age remains around 60.
Dr Mak Kin-wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Society for the Aged (Sage), agrees with this perspective and says that an ageing population working past the typical retirement age could be a triple win. “It’s a win for the employer, a win for the community and a win for the individual person. The elderly are probably more patient. They’re more experienced and more educated, so they’re actually good employees. In Hong Kong, especially, where our economy is not really based on hard labour and is instead based on knowledge, this group of people can certainly contribute and pass their experiences on to the next generation of workers.”

Source: Time Out "Put out to pasture: Should Hong Kong scrap its retirement age?" (November 23, 2016)