Should MOM scrap the retirement age?

Retirement continues to be a contentious issue as Singapore prepares for a silver tsunami

Should MOM scrap the retirement age?

Should Singapore do away with a mandatory retirement age?

At a recent forum, nominated member of parliament Kanwaljit Soin cited Australia and Britain as countries that scrapped the retirement age without affecting the competitiveness of the labour market.

In response, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling said that concepts of a retirement and re-employment age are still relevant based on feedback gathered by a workgroup for older workers.

She explained that unlike Singapore, countries like Australia and Britain are very large markets and have a critical mass of local companies to provide employment, even if overseas companies choose to leave.

“If the view of the employers is such that the labour market is quite rigid, not flexible enough, you may not see the effect immediately,” Low said. “But when the next investment decision comes, that is when maybe Singapore as a location may not be as attractive [to overseas companies].”

She added that while every older worker would want to continue to enjoy the same wages and benefits as they continue working, this must be balanced with ensuring that they remain employable and companies remain competitive.

The forum also discussed solutions to help older employees cope with their work, according to The Straits Times.

Offering more flexible work arrangements might be one way to help older workers continue working, several speakers suggested.

Many workers want flexibility in changing the intensity of work as they age, said Vikas Sharma, research director of Blackbox Research.

“They want a gentle progression from a full job scope to something that is more amenable to them as they advance in their years,” he said. This could involve part-time work, flexible schedules or mentoring roles.

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