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askST: What to do if your employer asks you to retire, but you would like to keep working

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Joanna Seow on 17 Jan 2021

The Straits Times

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Q: My employer has asked me to retire due to my age, but I would like to keep working. What can I do?

 

A: Your employer cannot ask you to retire before you reach the statutory retirement age of 62.

 

Beyond that age, your employer must, by law, offer you re-employment up to the age of 67 as long as you meet certain criteria, such as being medically fit to continue working and having worked for the employer for at least three years before you reached the retirement age.

 

If you are eligible for re-employment but your employer cannot offer you a position, it must transfer you to another employer or offer you a one-off Employment Assistance Payment (EAP).

 

The law does not state an amount for the EAP, but tripartite guidelines state that it should be equivalent to 3½ months' salary, subject to a minimum of $5,500 and a maximum of $13,000, for employees not re-employed.

 

For employees who have been re-employed for at least 30 months since the age of 62, the amount could be two months of salary, subject to a minimum of $3,500 and maximum of $7,500.

 

Your wages under the re-employment contract should not be changed based on your age, but can be changed based on adjustments to your job scope, productivity and seniority in the company, for instance. Medical benefits can be restructured.

 

You may also ask for a part-time re-employment arrangement.

 

If you are not offered re-employment and you dispute your employer's reasons for it, you can notify the Commissioner for Labour within one month from the last day of employment.

 

This can be done online here.

 

If you are eligible and the employer offers you neither re-employment nor an EAP, you can lodge a salary-related claim for the EAP with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM). You can also approach TADM if you feel that the terms and conditions of your re-employment offer are unreasonable.

 

In both cases, you should do so within six months after the last day of employment.

 

The retirement age will be raised gradually to 65, and the re-employment age ceiling to 70, by 2030. The first increase will be in July next year, when the retirement age will be raised from 62 to 63, and the re-employment age ceiling from 67 to 68.

 

Some organisations have raised the ages ahead of the national schedule or have done away with a retirement age completely.

 

Employers do not have an obligation to pay retirement benefits unless they are specifically stated in your employment contract.

 

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How says company-provided retirement benefits such as pensions and continuation of healthcare benefits into retirement have become less common over the years, though they vary with industries and companies.

 

In general, he says, organisations have moved towards performance-based pay and benefit packages that cover their workforce for the duration of their employment.

 

Mr Heng also notes that employers are not breaking the law if they retire workers who have reached the re-employment age ceiling. But this does not mean that they have to retire them.

 

Ministry of Manpower data shows that the employment rate of Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 65 and above rose by 0.9 percentage points to 28.5 per cent last June, compared with a year earlier, owing to government incentives and tripartite efforts to support the employment of older workers, Mr Heng says.

 

He suggests that workers unsure about how the retirement and re-employment laws affect them contact NTUC for advice.

 

As a side note, employers are not allowed to fire any employee based on age. If you feel you have been wrongfully dismissed because of your age, you can appeal in writing to the Minister for Manpower within one month of dismissal.

 

If you are looking for a new job, you can get job-matching help from SGUnited Jobs and Skills centres, or contact Workforce Singapore or NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute for career guidance.

 

They may be able to link you up with employers who are particularly committed to hiring older workers, and also suggest programmes to refresh your skills.

 

There are professional conversion programmes to retrain you for jobs in demand. More courses are listed on the MySkillsFuture portal and at NTUC LearningHub.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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