Tag Archive - work

Age discrimination in Hong Kong employment

Prof Chan at the Engage symposium.

“If we don’t engage older people to work and be in the community, we don’t have enough labour to sustain the economy,” shared Prof Alfred Chan of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong, in his recent keynote address at EngAGE symposium at Temasek Polytechnic. He added that if people retire at age 60 or later at 65, which are the retirement ages in a number of developed countries, there would be less people engaged in the workforce. And to make matters worse, in 50 years’ time, there will be one person supporting a family of six rather than the current one supporting two in a family.

He added that there are many ways countries are dealing with an ageing population including increasing pension amounts but that have not been altogether smooth, particularly in the European Union where there was unrest. Governments have also looked at promoting increased fertility. “It is not for the Government to say … and for women, would you want three children as this is what it takes to replace the population?” Other options that are on the table include opening up immigration. “However in 50 years’ time, people don’t want their people to leave their countries as they will be much needed.”

Prof Chan said that there are other options to maintain the labour force such as opening up more part-time opportunities for seniors and raising the retirement age which is the most practical way. However, he said what age should we then retire? “Would you hire at 100, probably not.” He said that Governments would not stipulate the age that one should retire but leave it to companies to decide. “If the company is willing to hire and you are willing to work, the Government will support this.” He though stopped short of the idea of having no retirement age, saying: “For the employees, some may still want a definite time allowing them (lawfully) to retire, and for policy-making, employers or the Government need a ‘marker’ for their plans such as staffing, recruitment and training policies.”

Prof Chan said that we are moving towards a knowledge-based economy instead of using muscle to work, and hence, we will need to depend on knowledge and brain power, which is where someone older with experience can contribute. “Young people should understand the seniors have wisdom and knowledge, and older people need to keep learning and using technology.”

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When age matters

Ageism in the workforce continues to be a major obstacle for many Singaporeans. Older workers are typically perceived to be slower, less productive and more resistant to change than their younger counterparts.

In an effort to reduce discrimination in the workplace, government leaders have recently promoted the idea of an “ageless” or “age-blind” Singapore, where employers will hire based on an applicant’s skills and experience rather than his or her age.

This is an appropriate response to the problem of workplace ageism. It is expected that by 2030, almost one in four residents in Singapore could be aged 65 or older. This trend is already underway in other industrialised nations such as Japan and Germany.

We will have to make the most of our labour capacity in order to continue thriving economically. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has been calling on employers to see the value in mature workers, in preparation for an older workforce.

In our efforts to prevent discrimination, however, we must be careful not to completely disregard age. Doing so has its risks.

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Flexible working key for older workers

Nine out of 10 (92 percent) senior business people in various industries in Singapore see flexible working critical for keeping older, experienced workers in the economy, according to the latest research by global workplace provider Regus.

The study also found that 96 percent of respondents confirm that flexible working is key to keeping carers and post-retirement workers in employment so that they can better juggle the demands of their family and their professional life. The study surveyed more than 586 people in January this year.

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Over 55s in the UK still working

Over half of over 55s in the UK are still working – because they don’t feel sufficiently secure to think about early retirement, research done by UK’s Skipton Building Society has revealed. The study found that despite the approach of their golden years, an alarmingly large percentage cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The report revealed that although two-thirds stopped working full-time in their long-term career by the age of 55, most have merely reduced their hours or taken on part-time work. It also emerged the most common ‘late career’ choices are cleaning, stacking shelves in a supermarket, cashier work or doing the accounts for local businesses.

Unfortunately, seven out of 10 of those polled said they were worried they would struggle to get by during retirement without working. As well as the financial implications of giving up work altogether, 55 percent of adults with parents aged 55+ believe they work to stave off boredom.

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A call for carers to stay at work

An estimated 60,000 grandparents – 9,000 per year or 25 every day – have dropped out of the UK labour market to bring up their grandchildren only to face a lack of recognition and support from Government, according to a new report by charity Grandparents Plus. As a result, these grandparents often end up in poverty.

Shared a 57-year-old grandmother who is raising her grandson and who is now unemployed and looking for work: “I was a manager at the time and had to be in the office Monday to Friday. I felt my job was threatened if I was to take time off and that things would be made difficult for me. So I had no choice other than to resign which I really did not want to do but my grandson’s needs were more important. I am struggling financially now because of it.”

The study, “Giving Up the Day Job?”, showed how almost half (47 percent) of grandparents and other family member (such as older siblings, aunts, uncles and other relatives and also termed as kinship) carers who were previously working had to give up their jobs to care for children, many of whom have emotional difficulties and would be in local authority care had their relative not stepped in. The carers have to rely on benefits as most do not receive any allowances from their local authority.

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