The Retirement and Re-employment (Amendment) Bill 2016 passed by Parliament yesterday will help improve re-employment opportunities for older workers by effecting three changes that will take effect from 1 July 2017.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Manpower, the changes include:
Raising the re-employment age from 65 to 67
The new re-employment age of 67 will apply to locals who turn 65 on or after 1 July 2017 (i.e. those born on or after 1 July 1952).
Introducing an option to allow eligible employees to be re-employed by another employer
This amendment allows an employer who is unable to offer a suitable position in his own organisation, to transfer his re-employment obligations to another employer under the following conditions:
- The older employee consents to the transfer.
- The second employer agrees to take over all applicable re-employment obligations.
If either condition is not met, the original employer still has to fulfil its re-employment obligations such as offering an Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) if the employer cannot find a job in its organisation for the older employee.
Remove option of employers cutting employees’ wages at age 60.
Originally intended to help employers with seniority-based wage systems manage costs, the option was removed in line with tripartite partners' agreement due to the successful effort in moving employers away from seniority-based wage systems.
Additionally, to prepare employers and employees for these changes, the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers (Tricom) has further revised the Tripartite Guidelines to provide guidance to employers and employees on the implementation of re-employment by another employer from 1 July 2017.
Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower said: “We thank the tripartite partners for supporting this Bill. Raising the re-employment age from 65 to 67 will help older workers who wish and are able to continue working stay employed.
"Allowing eligible employees to be re-employed by another employer will also help to provide more options for employers and employees. MOM will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to support older workers who wish to stay employed and employers who wish to tap on this growing pool of workers.”
Minister for Manpower, Lim Swee Say on university graduates and older people in the workforce
Replying to a Parliamentary question by MP, Dr Lim Wee Kiak on unemployment, and how the softer job market impacts job seekers (university graduates and older people in the workforce), Minister Lim said: "The Ministry does not make forecasts of the unemployment rate. Nevertheless, amid current global economic conditions and continued economic restructuring, short-term fluctuations in unemployment rate are expected."
He added that based on the annual Graduate Employment Survey coordinated by the Ministry of Education, around 9 in 10 graduates of our autonomous universities found jobs within six months from the completion of their final examinations in 2015. This is consistent with previous three cohorts.
As for older residents, it is noted that both their employment and unemployment rates have moved up with the employment rate for local residents age 55 to 64 increasing to a high of 67.3% in June 2016.
However, he added that the unemployment rate for local residents aged 50 and above has seen an increase of 0.2% over 2 years with a corresponding rise in the long-term unemployment rate by 0.2%, from 0.8% to 1.0% over the same two-year period (from September 2014 to September 2016).
Lim added that the Government will continue to provide extra support to encourage the employment of older workers such as the Special Employment Credit (SEC), which is a wage offset of up to 8% of monthly wages for hiring Singaporean workers aged 55 and above, and earning not more than $4,000; with an additional offset of up to 3% provided for those aged 65 and above.
Other initiatives he cited included the raising of re-employment age, as well as the career and employment support provided under the Adapt and Grow initiative.
Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, on the number of workers who found jobs through job fairs
Answering a Parliamentary question by MP Leon Perera on the number of workers who have successfully found jobs through Government-supported job fairs each year over the past ten years, Minister Lim noted that from 2007 to Sep 2016, Government-funded career services and programmes operated mainly by the Workforce Development Agency (now Workforce Singapore – WSG) and NTUC-e2i have helped more than 160,000 jobseekers to secure employment.
"To maximise matching, our integrated suite of services and programmes include more than just job fairs, but also career guidance and counselling, job search coaching, employability camps, career preparatory events, as well as placement programmes such as Professional Conversion Programmes," he explained.
Lim highlighted that on an annual basis, the number ranges from a high of more than 24,000 in 2009 to a low of about 13,500 in 2008, with an annual average of over 16,000.
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