You are here

Singapore National Employers Federation calls for Budget help in hiring older workers

WITH the retirement and re-hiring ages set to go up, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) has zeroed in on urging more support for hiring older workers.

The upcoming Singapore Budget should help bosses tackle the challenges of maintaining a silver workforce, such as higher wages and medical costs, and a potential dearth of relevant skills, according to suggestions released by the trade union on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year unveiled plans to lift the statutory retirement age from 62 to 65 years by 2030, while re-employment age will go from 67 to 70 in the same period. The Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers will also be raised.

The SNEF is now calling for a wage offset scheme to accompany the raising of the retirement and re-employment ages, as well as “transitional support to employers, in the form of one-off wage offsets, to mitigate the higher CPF contribution rates”.

“Since 2011, the Special Employment Credit (SEC) has played a significant role in helping employers defray employment costs associated with hiring older workers,” the SNEF said.

“SEC is the most tangible form of direct support to employers that signals the government’s support for employers to hire older workers.”

Its proposal comes hot on the heels of similar recommendations, also made on Tuesday, by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF): to extend SEC subsidies for older employees’ wages, and re-introduce the Temporary Employment Credit whenever the CPF contribution rates go up.

The SNEF also called for funding to help employers to both offer more part-time re-employment opportunities for older workers, as well as install a "re-careering programme", letting older workers be redeployed more smoothly as they head into re-employment.

Meanwhile, the Budget could help to promote the portable medical benefits scheme - which covers some of employers’ costs in providing medical benefits - to enable employers to better manage rising medical costs, said the SNEF, echoing a similar suggestion by the SBF.

“At the same time, workers will be able to save more to pay for medical bills that they may incur, especially after retirement,” the SNEF noted.

The SNEF, which has more than 3,300 members, said in its statement that employers are committed to employing older workers but face expense and skills-related challenges.

“Furthermore, as the economic environment remains uncertain, there is a need for additional support from the government to help reduce the costs of doing business,” it added.

And, while the higher CPF contribution rates and age caps have yet to kick in, the SNEF said that an early announcement of measures in Budget 2020 would help bosses to plan ahead - with more certainty over the support that they can expect in footing the costs, as they adjust to the manpower law changes.