National Wages Council calls on firms to tap on experience of older employees, provide training

National Wages Council calls on firms to tap on experience of older employees, provide training

The National Wages Council on Tuesday (May 30) called on employers to tap on the older workforce as more seniors want to stay active and are prepared to continue working. Michelle Teo reports.

SINGAPORE: The National Wages Council (NWC) on Tuesday (May 30) called on employers to tap on the older workforce as more seniors want to stay active and are prepared to continue working.

Employers should voluntarily adopt higher retirement and re-employment ages “where possible”, and provide necessary training for senior workers, it said in its wage guidelines and recommendations press release.

Companies may also provide more part-time employment opportunities, and implement workplace health programmes that meet the needs of older workers. They can also redesign jobs, workplaces and Human Resource policies “to be age-friendly”, the press release added.

Its recommendations were in line with the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers’ consensus that that the retirement and re-employment ages in Singapore “remain relevant”, and should go up beyond 62 and 67 respectively in “small steps over time”.

NWC guidelines workers wages 2019
Members of the National Wage Council presenting the 2019/2020 Guidelines at the Ministry of Manpower on May 30, 2019. (Photo: Aaron Chong)

NWC Chairman, Peter Seah said that the Tripartite Workgroup "will build a consensus on how far and how fast (the retirement and re-employment ages) be raised".

"It is likely to announce its final recommendations towards the end of 2019," he added.

“The NWC further notes that notwithstanding Singapore’s ageing population and slowing local workforce growth, seniors today are also more educated and healthier, and more seniors want to stay active and are prepared to continue working,” it added.

Meanwhile, the NWC recommended older workers “proactively seek to reskill and upskill themselves to maintain their employability” and “stay open to changes in their job scopes as they progress in their careers”.

PROVISION OF TRAINING

The NWC also stressed the need for structured training of workers.

“To do so, all employers should develop a training plan that meets their current and future requirements, drawing reference from industry standards,” it added.

The NWC said that companies may seek the assistance of Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Trade Associations & Chambers (TACs) and the unions to develop their training plan.

On the implementation of training plans, companies may also top on available SkillsFuture, as well as Adapt & Grow programmes for their employees.

“Employers should continue to innovate and implement productivity initiatives, and work towards better wages and skills,” said NWC.

"Broadly, the thrust is to prepare our workforce to be more productive ... so that they produce the productivity that we'd like to see and then translate into better wage levels," said Dr Robert Yap, president of SNEF.

ADOPTION OF GUIDELINES FOR LOW-WAGE WORKERS

The NWC noted that more private firms performing outsourced work had adopted its guidelines for low-wage workers last year, rising to 55 per cent in 2018 from 44 per cent the year before.

Last year, it had recommended that low-wage workers earning a basic monthly salary of up to S$1,300 receive a pay increase of S$50 to S$70.

READ: National Wages Council suggests S$50-S$70 pay hike, one-off payment for low-wage workers

For 2019, it suggested an increase in the basic monthly wage threshold for low-wage workers to S$1,400 with a similar pay increment.

The NWC also listed several recommendations to encourage employers providing and supplying outsourced services to support best sourcing practices.

Three of the recommendations called for service buyers and providers to: 

Firstly, recognise the lengths of service, experience and performance of incumbent workers when renewing or taking over their contracts.

Secondly, “avoid a ‘reset’ of wages and benefits” for outsourced workers who perform the same job functions when service providers are changed.

As well as to improve the work environments of low-wage workers, such as making proper and reasonable rest areas available.

The Government also said it accepts the NWC guidelines for 2019/2020 and welcomes the stronger emphasis placed on employer-led training this year.

"The strong tripartite partnership in the NWC has contributed to better wage and employment outcomes for our workers, while ensuring that our businesses stay productive and competitive," it added.

"The Government is confident that with the commitment of the tripartite partners, the NWC 2019/2020 Guidelines will be successfully implemented."

Source: CNA/ac

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