Law to protect senior workers a ‘double-edged sword’, MP warns

SINGAPORE: The Retirement and Re-employment Act 1993 could end up being a disadvantage for elderly workers, a member of parliament said.

Jessica Tan from Singapore's Workers Party said employers should instead do more to manage a multi-generational workforce and create pathways forward to avoid ageism.

The law requires employers to rehire an eligible employee who has reached the retirement age of 63, up to the re-employment age of 68.

“As a company considers hiring someone who is senior and has little runway to retirement, (the employer) may see it as a risk to hire a person if he or she turns out not to be a good fit for the role because the company will then be required to offer re-employment for the person when he or she reaches retirement age,” Tan said.

Tan recommended structural changes to organisation and better support for a multi-generational workforce to deal with older workers.

One of the suggestions was that all employees, including those over 50 years old should be allowed to spend a few months learning new work-related skills every few years.

This is because job transitions can be a difficult process for seniors and this process will make it easier for them to systematically learn and change their career pathways successfully.

It is important that employers address any potential issues that could arise, Tan said.

Companies can offer support from professionals who understand what challenges these changes might be about, she said.

Senior workers who are changing careers may face structural, emotional and physical challenges when learning new skills, so support for them should address these potential issues and let them have a positive learning experience, Tan added.

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