Speech by Mr. Kwek Hian Chuan Henry (Nee Soon GRC)
Debate on Retirement and Reemployment Act Bill (No. 36/2016)
1. The amendments to the current RRA are sound ones. They strike a good balance between protecting our seniors, and encouraging our employers to hire seniors. Therefore, I stand in support of the motion.
2. The next challenge we face is to get the information across to both our seniors and our companies. More so for the former, as our seniors are more vulnerable.
3. One important point to communicate is the concept of re-employment age. On the ground, residents occasionally tell me that their companies ask them to leave, because they have reached “retirement age”. Some companies even say that the “law prevents them from hiring our seniors beyond a certain age”.
4. I am disappointed when I hear such misconceptions.
5. As my parliamentary colleague Darryl David recently put it, as long as the employee is medically fit and willing, the re-employment age of 67 is just the floor and not the ceiling. The law does not stop companies from hiring seniors beyond 67, even if these seniors are not covered by the rules spelled out in the RRA.
6. Therefore, empowering seniors with information is key. I have a few suggestions:
a. First. The Pioneer Generation Office can conduct household visits to seniors above 50 to share information on the current employment laws, as well as the incentives such as the SEC, that can help them stay employed.
b. Second. Well-crafted ads in different languages, including dialects are also options. The ones for Medishield life are well-received and very effective.
c. Third. Let us not forget social media, especially since some of our younger seniors are now tech-savvy.
7. Besides informing seniors, companies need to understand that they not only gain from the monetary incentives, but also from the experience our seniors have to offer.
8. However, it is not easy for businesses, especially SMEs, to stay current on regulations.
9. Our government can do more to keep our businesses informed. For example:
a. One. The upcoming business grant portal can be clear in stating senior employment incentives and re-employment age, perhaps through pop-up banners on its launch page. This will ensure that our business leaders are kept in the loop.
b. Two. The relevant MOM, CPF, and ICA websites should also display such information, so that HR managers are aware as well.
10. Madam Speaker, in conclusion, the RRA amendment today is an important step to assure our seniors of their employability. But for the law to see its intended effect, seniors and businesses need a genuine shift in mind-set. And for that to happen, they must first be empowered with the right information.
11. I look forward to the responses from MOM. And I stand in support of the motion. Thank you.