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NTUC chief calls for more companies to voluntarily raise retirement age

LABOUR chief Ng Chee Meng has called for more employers to voluntarily raise the retirement age of their workers beyond the statutory requirement of 62, as he commended Gardens by the Bay for being the latest company to do so.

A raised retirement age will allow older workers to continue working, earn an income and contribute, he said.

Mr Ng was speaking on Wednesday at the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding in which Gardens by the Bay pledged to raise its retirement age to 65 from next year (2019).

"NTUC fully supports this initiative by the Gardens. It is something that we hope other employers will follow," said Mr Ng, who is Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

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"(Older workers) have experience and are valuable assets. Employees should value and re-employ our older workers," he added.

A unionised company under the Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU), Gardens by the Bay currently has 20 workers who are above the age of 60.

According to NTUC, other companies that have made similar moves to raise the retirement age, or that do not stipulate any retirement age in their employment contracts, include the Singapore American School, Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore and ComfortDelgro Group.

The statutory retirement age has been fixed at 62 for the past two decades. It was last raised in 1999 from 60 to 62. However, companies must offer re-employment to eligible workers up to age 67. This threshold was upped from 65 to 67 in July last year.

In May, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced the formation of a work group that will address older workers' concerns as Singapore's workforce ages.

Among other things, it will consider Singapore's next moves on the retirement and re-employment age, and review the longer-term relevance of these policies.

The work group consists of high-level representatives from the unions, employers and the Government.

Mr Ng said on Wednesday that the NTUC will work with this work group to consider issues affecting older workers, including the need to develop clearer guidelines on adjustments to the employment terms of re-employed workers.

Older workers are one of three groups of workers that Mr Ng said he wants to focus on after he was elected labour chief in May. The other two groups are low-wage workers and middle-aged middle-income workers.

THE STRAITS TIMES