Forum: Better protection on job security for workers at age 63August 12, 2023
I refer to the report on Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon’s response to a query by Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair on the rationale for workers who lose their retrenchment benefits entitlement to be entitled only to Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) when they reach 63 (Employment Assistance Payment should not be compared to retrenchment benefits, Aug 3).
I was previously a senior legal officer with a statutory board that retired me when I reached the statutory retirement age of 63 without offering me the option of re-employment on contract under the Retirement and Re-employment Act 1993.
I was shocked by this decision after working in the organisation for more than 18 years, as I had no reason to believe that I was not eligible to be offered re-employment on contract under the Act. No specific reasons were given, except that no suitable position could be found for me in the organisation, and the ones offered to me were not compatible with my experience and qualifications.
As I was already a senior legal officer at the top end of my pay scale, the EAP cap of $14,750 offered to me, presumably to assist me in finding a new job, is small comfort as my monthly take-home pay was higher.
At 63, it would be difficult for me to secure suitable employment commensurate with my experience and qualifications. I would have been better off being a unionised member under a collective agreement, as the employer would have to compensate me with retrenchment benefits of one month’s pay for every year of service, with a cap. Although I was a general branch member of my union, it could not assist me, nor did it succeed in its appeal to the senior management on my behalf.
Under the Act, I would have been entitled to work until 68 years if the employer had offered me re-employment under contract. Although there is a statutory recourse under the Act against the employer, I am not confident if any appeal would succeed.
I support the call for more protection for workers like me, as there is no job security when the employee reaches the statutory retirement age. The consequence of my retirement is no different from an employee being retrenched or having his services terminated.
Winston Chew Choon Teck