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Efforts to improve the lot of older workers don't end with Budget 2014: labour movement

While the labour movement welcomed the increase in CPF contribution rates under Budget 2014, it said other issues, like fair employment and career progression for older workers, have to be looked at, going forward.

SINGAPORE: Efforts to improve the lot of older working Singaporeans do not end with Budget 2014, says the labour movement.

The government on Friday unveiled specific measures to raise the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for those aged above 50.

In addition, employer CPF contribution rate will rise by one percentage point for all workers from January 2015 and the increase will go to their Medisave Accounts.


While the labour movement welcomed the initiative, it said other issues, like fair employment and career progression for older workers, have to be looked at, going forward.

Chatters Cafe's staff are all above 50 years old.

Under Budget 2014, CPF rates for those aged above 50 to 55 will increase by 2.5 percentage points, with two percentage points coming from employers.

For those aged above 55 to 65, rates will increase by 1.5 percentage points - entirely from employer's contributions.

Chatters Cafe said it will not pass on extra costs to customers or cut down employees' benefits.

Businesses will get a one-year measure to offset and cope with increasing wage costs, with the government temporarily raising the Special Employment Credit scheme by up to 0.5 percentage points.

And to help employers manage the one-percentage point increase that goes towards their employees' Medisave, the government will provide them a 50 per cent offset through a one-year Temporary Employment Credit.

Small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, are likely to feel the pinch of the increased CPF contribution rates more than the bigger companies.

But the situation also means that there's more incentive for an older worker to keep working.

The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the small percentage point increases in CPF contribution rates shouldn't dent business prospects too much.

Lau Tai San, vice president of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "The current problem of SMEs is (they are) finding it hard to find Singaporeans to work. So the one to two (percentage point increase) is not significant, if there's a way for them to increase the employment and employability of Singaporeans."

The labour movement holds a similar view, and says further issues to be looked at include fair treatment of older workers, for their peace of mind.

Heng Chee How, NTUC deputy secretary general, said: "They also want to know that if something happens in the volatility of the market, they can get help to get back into work as soon as possible, in a reasonable fashion, and overall, that the contributions that they make will be valued."

The labour movement says firms should also help older workers "earn better" by raising their productivity.
 

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