Singaporeans want later retirement age: Survey
Poll shows 41% ready to work past age of 62
TODAY, June 16, 2006
Singaporeans are ready and willing to retire past the current retirement age of 62, if the results from a study are anything to go by.
The findings of the retirement study, released yesterday at a forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, revealed that 41 per cent of the 1,000 Singaporeans polled want the Government to increase the retirement age.
Among the men, a majority of 29 per cent wanted to retire between 65 and 69 years of age.
Dr Sarah Harper, director of the United Kingdom's Oxford Institute of Ageing, which conducted the survey, said: "The message that is coming out of Singaporean people and the Singaporean employer is that we value older workers and we want to work longer."
Some 900,000 Singaporeans are expected to be over 65 by 2030.
While the mandatory retirement age has not been officially raised, measures are in place to let the older Singaporean work longer if he wishes to.
Recently, the age limit for taxi drivers was raised from 70 to 73.
The labour movement is also working on combining job recreation with skill redevelopment to help workers stay employed longer.
Speaking to reporters at another event, NTUC deputy secretary-general Lim Swee Say said: "Some of the statutory boards started a scheme where workers reaching the age of 62 are allowed to go on a yearly extension, on the condition that they remain healthy and the job performance remains good.
"I think this is the way to go. I think we can go one step further, not just in allowing the daily-rated to continue working upon reaching the retirement age, but to find ways and means to re-create the job so that, as they continue to work, they can be rewarded in a more attractive manner."
Frankly I am not very sure what is the significance of the government raising or not raising the retirement age.
If you need the money, you will want to work. If you like to work, you will also want to work. If you don't need the money and don't like to work, then you won't work.
All of the above holds true, whether you are 45 or 62 or 75 years old.
As for employers, they will employ or offer to employ whoever they think they need, at whatever cost they think they can afford, and at whatever salary they think the employee is worth.
That also holds true - whether the employee is 45 or 62 or 75 years old.
So I have difficulty understanding the significance of the official retirement age. It doesn't really influence the question of whether you can or cannot work. Nor does it necessarily have any effect on an employer's decision as to whether it wishes to employ you or not.
And it is not as if the Singapore government actually starts providing you with any pension or other special benefits when you reach the official retirement age. Only a very small number of Singaporeans (including PAP ministers) actually have any pension rights.
So, as I said, what is the significance of the official retirement age?
Is there anything noteworthy in the Retirement Age Act? Let's see. Section 5 says:
(2) Where a retirement age higher than 60 years is prescribed under section 4 (1), an employer may, from time to time and in accordance with this section, reduce the wages of any of his older employees on or at any time after the employee attains 60 years of age.Frankly, I don't see much practical use in the above provisions. It gives employers the right to reduce older employees' salaries. However, whether an employee is young or old, his employer is always free to say, "Hey, I plan to cut your salary". The reason for the proposed cut? Well, the company may not be doing well, or the employee may not be performing well, or perhaps the company just thinks it's overpaying that employee.
(3) An employer who intends to reduce the wages of any of his older employees under this section shall, before the older employee concerned attains 60 years of age or other higher age, as the case may be, give reasonable prior notice in writing to the older employee of his intention to reduce his wages, stating the amount of such reduction and the effective date of such reduction, and giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
(4) If an older employee does not agree with any proposed reduction in his wages, he may either retire or be retired by his employer on or after attaining 60 years of age notwithstanding any of the provisions of this Act.
Section 5(3) above says that if the older employee is not happy with the pay cut, he can retire. Well, thank you very much. But if a person is not happy with his job, then whatever age he may be, he always has the right to quit anyway. So Section 5(3) doesn't really give the older employee any rights that he doesn't already have.
The Retirement Age Act supposedly protects older employees from unfair dismissal. If the older employee thinks he's been unfairly dismissed, he can complain to the Minister
Where any employee below 60 years of age or the prescribed retirement age considers that he has been unlawfully dismissed on the ground of age, he may, within one month of the dismissal, make representations in writing to the Minister to be reinstated in his former employment.As I see it, these provisions are also of very limited effect. If you're old but competent and useful, the company will want to keep you anyway. If you're old and incompetent or useless, the company will dismiss you for being incompetent, or because it doesn't need you. And dismissing an incompetent or redundant employee is not an offence.
(2) The Minister may, before making a decision on any such representations, direct an investigating officer in writing to investigate and report whether in his opinion the employee has been unlawfully dismissed on the ground of age.
In the end, I think that the government is just trying to effect a change in mindset. They want to change Singaporeans' perceptions about when is the appropriate age to stop working. They would like to encourage more Singaporeans to retire later.
But really, the truth is that if you are working, you can stop working whenever you can afford to stop working. That could be at the age of 35, or 50, or 65 or 73, or 85, or never.
Conversely, raising the official retirement age doesn't necessarily mean that you will have a job at age 62 or 65 or 70. In fact, nowadays, there's no guarantee that you will have a job, at any age.