Singapore sets up task force to explore retirement issues Singapore sets up task force to explore retirement issues

Singapore sets up task force to explore retirement issues
07 Jun 2018

A team of employers, trade unionists and government officials has been set up to look at how to ensure older workers are provided with more effective support in Singapore.

Manpower minister Josephine Teo said the group would, among other things, review the longer-term relevance of current retirement and re-employment ages and explore whether Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers were adequate for retirement purposes.

Workers aged 50 or more make up one-third of Singapore's resident workforce, which comprises both citizens and permanent residents, she added, before referring to their “anxieties about the future, particularly as technology disrupts businesses and jobs”.

Employers and workers welcomed the task force’s creation, according to the Straits Times. Fujitsu Singapore country president Wong Heng Chew said he believed his company's older workers were invaluable as they contributed both their established skills and life experience.

He suggested that lowering employers' CPF contribution rates for such workers could encourage more businesses to re-employ them. This approach could be balanced by providing them with additional income tax relief, Chew added.

Last year, both employer and employee CPF contribution rates for older workers were increased. For those aged between 50 and 55, the rates are now on a par with those of younger workers.

Workers who are older than 55, however, still have lower employer and employee contribution rates. These range from 12.5% to 26% of their wages, compared with 37% for younger employees. 

Singapore's statutory retirement age has been set at 62 for 20 years, after being raised from 60 in 1999. Companies, however, must offer re-employment to eligible workers when they turn 62, to be renewed yearly until the age of 65. Last July, this ceiling was raised to 67. 

The new work group will be chaired by the Ministry of Manpower’s Permanent Secretary, Aubeck Kam. Its advisers will be Mrs Teo, labour chief Ng Chee Meng and Singapore National Employers’ Federation's Dr Robert Yap.

Yap acknowledged that the CPF contribution rates could be a sensitive issue for employers intent on keeping costs down. But he said that the work group would try to balance the various considerations for the common good.

"What we want to maintain is flexibility in employment practices so that companies can adapt and grow with their workers," he added.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

A team of employers, trade unionists and government officials has been set up to look at how to ensure older workers are provided with more effective support in Singapore.

Manpower minister Josephine Teo said the group would, among other things, review the longer-term relevance of current retirement and re-employment ages and explore whether Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers were adequate for retirement purposes.

Workers aged 50 or more make up one-third of Singapore's resident workforce, which comprises both citizens and permanent residents, she added, before referring to their “anxieties about the future, particularly as technology disrupts businesses and jobs”.

Employers and workers welcomed the task force’s creation, according to the Straits Times. Fujitsu Singapore country president Wong Heng Chew said he believed his company's older workers were invaluable as they contributed both their established skills and life experience.

He suggested that lowering employers' CPF contribution rates for such workers could encourage more businesses to re-employ them. This approach could be balanced by providing them with additional income tax relief, Chew added.

Last year, both employer and employee CPF contribution rates for older workers were increased. For those aged between 50 and 55, the rates are now on a par with those of younger workers.

Workers who are older than 55, however, still have lower employer and employee contribution rates. These range from 12.5% to 26% of their wages, compared with 37% for younger employees. 

Singapore's statutory retirement age has been set at 62 for 20 years, after being raised from 60 in 1999. Companies, however, must offer re-employment to eligible workers when they turn 62, to be renewed yearly until the age of 65. Last July, this ceiling was raised to 67. 

The new work group will be chaired by the Ministry of Manpower’s Permanent Secretary, Aubeck Kam. Its advisers will be Mrs Teo, labour chief Ng Chee Meng and Singapore National Employers’ Federation's Dr Robert Yap.

Yap acknowledged that the CPF contribution rates could be a sensitive issue for employers intent on keeping costs down. But he said that the work group would try to balance the various considerations for the common good.

"What we want to maintain is flexibility in employment practices so that companies can adapt and grow with their workers," he added.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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