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Prudential Singapore scraps retirement age for staff

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Prudential Singapore's chief executive Wilf Blackburn (third from left, with staff) said that scrapping the retirement age of 62 made more sense for an ageing population which has an average lifespan of 83.1 years, and which is now nudging 100.

AT Prudential Singapore, age is indeed just a number.

The insurance company has removed the retirement age of 62 in its company HR policy, paving the way for its 1,100 employees to have extended careers and decide when they want to retire, if at all.

Removal of the retirement age will also allow employees to "fulfil their personal and financial aspirations", said the company, which enacted the new policy on Oct 1.

Prudential Singapore's chief executive Wilf Blackburn said that scrapping the retirement age of 62 made more sense for an ageing population which has an average lifespan of 83.1 years, and which is now nudging 100.

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He noted that people who stopped work at 62 could be looking at nearly 40 years of retirement if they live to 100, adding that a long retirement period could pose financial challenges should they outlive their savings.

A prolonged period of inactivity could also lead to health and social problems, Mr Blackburn said.

"With this in mind, we decided to scrap the retirement age so that our employees can continue to work in Prudential for as long as they are able to perform their jobs well. We want to empower them to decide when they want to retire, or if they wish to retire at all, rather than specify a work expiry date," Mr Blackburn said.

There are six people aged 62 and above in Prudential's employ, who are eligible for re-employment in the next five years, the firm said.

With the new policy, they can now stay on in their jobs, continue drawing the same salary as before, and be entitled to the same benefits - including medical - as all employees, Prudential said. They will still receive a retirement payout any time they choose to leave their jobs.

"There is a lot that businesses can gain by tapping on the experience and knowledge of the more mature employees. At Prudential, we see this group of employees as valuable assets and are committed to support them in extending their productive years by offering them re-skilling opportunities and flexible work schedules as we scrap the retirement age," Mr Blackburn said.

The company said that its new retirement policy was in line with the Republic's ambition to leverage its rapidly ageing workforce, and that it was introduced alongside the insurer's Ready for 100 report which "explores the readiness and aspirations of Singapore residents" to live to 100.

Luke Hee, general secretary of the Singapore Insurance Employees' Union, told The Business Times that the union, which has been in talks with management, "welcomes this enlightened move by Prudential to enable our employees to continue working for as long as they wish to". "With this initiative, the company is essentially removing any age factor to one's value in the job," he said.

Mr Hee added: "It is important to know that lifting the age bar is only one aspect of a more holistic approach in ensuring that our employees can continue to contribute to the company meaningfully. Nevertheless, it is certainly a positive step forward for both the company and employees."