Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Retirement and Re-employment (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 36/2016]
Madam, this Bill represents significant changes to our re-employment landscape. Reiterating Minister of State for Manpower Mr. Sam Tan during the COS debates last year, this is a necessary move which shows that Singapore is not just accepting, but embracing our older workforce.
Helping the elderly who work beyond age 65 because they want to
Raising the re-employment age from the cap of 65 to 67 brings benefits both to our economy and to our workforce. The retention of manpower will inject vitality into our tight labour market.
At the same time, we are helping older Singaporeans to remain employable. My personal interactions with residents at Nee Soon, which has a sizeable population of seniors, tell me that many still want to work because of a desire to be financially independent. Many are already working well beyond the age of 65.
By raising the re-employment age, we will shine a light on the value that older workers can bring to the workplace, fostering a mindset shift that ageing is not a burden, but an opportunity.
Madam, I also applaud the government’s move to support companies to re-employ older workers. This Bill provides further flexibility for companies, while offering greater options for older workers.
But how about those who work because they have to?
However, as we recognise this group of seniors who work only because they want to, we must not forget the population of seniors who work because they have to.
For many of the seniors, the reality is that they don’t have enough savings to retire. I have met some who continue to work despite physical illness and severe fatigue.
Even for those with children, for some, financial contributions from their children are insufficient for their basic survival and I have encountered a few residents at Nee Soon East whose children only provide for them because the law mandates so (through the Parents Maintenance Act).
The rising costs of living may also mean that many have no choice but to work beyond the age of 65, sometimes into their 70s and even 80s.
This would be a very sad reflection of Singapore, if we are a society that cannot even offer rest and repose to our people during their final days.
With this in mind, has the Ministry conducted any studies to reveal statistics on how many of our seniors beyond 65 are working because they want to, or because they have to and the reasons they have to work beyond 65?
There are distinct differences between these two groups and a better understanding of this landscape can help create better policies.
Are we increasing the payout eligibility age
Lastly, the main question I have been asked about this Bill is whether we will also be increasing the CPF Retirement Account payout eligibility age, which is currently at age 65 to 67. Can the Minister comment on this please.
Madam, the above comments notwithstanding, I stand in support of the Bill.