Koh Poh Koon on protecting S’pore’s working seniors 

This is what we do for working seniors: We tide them through difficult times as well as preserve their jobs. 

Last year’s Retrenchment and Reemployment Act prevents age-based discrimination and makes employers offer reemployment to working seniors up to 68 years old. 

Employers who do not will have to pay these employees the Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) of up to $14,750. 

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon spoke on these support schemes recently (Aug 3).  

“The Ministry of Manpower will continue to work closely with the tripartite partners to review and enable our senior workers to continue working if they wish to,” assured SMS Koh.  

The EAP keeps our seniors employed longer 

We considered the likely behaviours of people and the challenges of the market — and weighed these against the overall welfare of our senior workers — before putting the EAP into practice.   

So the EAP is carefully calibrated to prevent scenarios where employers connive early retrenchments for seniors. 

If the cost of paying retirement benefits is cheaper than paying EAP, it may well be that it will become a perverse incentive to retrench a worker before retirement age instead. This will then be detrimental to senior workers who are close to retirement age,” outlined SMS Koh.  

The current EAP, then, means that senior workers have more job security despite the challenges of the free market.  

Moreover, if the employer terminates a senior worker’s services, the EAP will give these workers some financial security. This while they seek new jobs. 

“It is not something that is tied to years of service, but it’s meant to be something that takes over a couple of months, for example, till the person can find a new job,” explained SMS Koh about the EAP payout looking out for seniors during difficult times.  

We value Singapore’s older workers 

Now, these efforts build upon our longstanding efforts to protect senior workers.  

These include raising the re-employment age to 68 from July 1 last year for career longevity, for example, and recommendations from our Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers on close-to-home issues like preventing age discrimination in the workplace were previously taken up by the government. 

Here, it is notable that fewer workers aged 63 and over were retrenched between 2018 to 2022 versus the national average (6.1 per 1000 versus 3.8 per 1000); these recommendations would have contributed to this favourable shift.  

Source: Koh Poh Koon / Facebook  

These efforts will be key for the seniors of today as well as tomorrow; we are becoming a super-aged society.   

They will let senior workers preserve their independence, and contribute to family as well as the community: Not only will they let seniors bring in income for their families, they will let them transmit their knowledge and experience to younger colleagues. 

Another step, then, towards a Singapore of active ageing and fulfilling careers.