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    Recognising the value of older workers, ST Editorial News & Top Stories

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    This week’s parliamentary discussions on retirement and re-employment, and the Central Provident Fund (CPF), have drawn attention to the related objectives of supporting older workers by enabling them to work longer if they wish to, and of simplifying the CPF system to help members to build up their retirement nest eggs and receive retirement payouts smoothly. Taken together, the measures should support Singaporeans in earning and saving more. Equally important is that Singapore’s labour market must keep adapting to an older workforce in a way that reflects the reality of demographic trends. Innovations in labour market policy, which have helped seniors to remain active economically over the years, must continue to be fine-tuned so that they do not become a financial burden on Singapore but can retain their economic agency as self-respecting and productive members of society. That lies at the heart of the decision that the retirement and re-employment ages for workers will be raised progressively to 65 and 70 respectively.

    One important issue that came up in the parliamentary discussions is whether a statutory retirement age is still needed. In the experiences of other countries, those without the equivalent of a statutory retirement age do not necessarily have better employment rates for senior workers, even though some of them have anti-discrimination legislation in place. Of course, an ideal situation is achieved when some employers abolish their internal retirement ages and allow employees to work for as long as they wish. But not all employers do so. That is where the statutory retirement and re-employment ages serve as basic safeguards. It is reassuring that Singapore’s average effective retirement age has risen faster than the average for members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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