71-year-old cleaner Mary Lim. Source: Reuters TV

Senior citizens’ return to workforce becoming “a norm” in Singapore’s ageing population: Reuters

In order to cope with rising living costs, an increasing number of elderly Singaporeans have resorted to making a return to the workforce at an age when many would like to retire comfortably.

Reuters reported on Monday (4 Feb) that “the employment rate for people over 65 have jumped over 15 percent in the past decade. Some of them say they have to continue to work in order to survive”.

“Almost a third of Singaporeans over 65 work”, according to Reuters, adding that “the employment rate for the elderly has jumped over 15 percent”.

“Since 2016, the country has launched several schemes to help companies with older staff, such as redesign grants that subsidise pay.

“The government is hoping to help older workers remain in the workforce longer and stay productive members of society,” Reuters added.

Speaking to Reuters, Philip, a 71-year-old security officer at Alliance Française, said that “instead of enjoying retirement”, he works six days a week at the French cultural centre, during which he screens incoming visitors to ensure that no trespassing occurs.

Citing his reasons for working at such an age, Mr Philip said that his reasons “can be summed up in two letters: A and I.”

“A stands for active – being active; I: to be independent,” he beamed.

However, with a “sky high cost of living and one of the highest life expectancies worldwide”, many older workers in Singapore have few choices but to return to the workforce after retirement “because they simply cannot survive otherwise”, Reuters highlighted.

An example of such is 71-year-old cleaner Mary, who told Reuters that “the government’s retirement saving scheme doesn’t provide her with enough money”.

“I have to keep on working until the end of my life,” Mdm Mary lamented.

“What to do, no choice. I have to struggle for it.”

Previously, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that Singaporeans have demonstrated a desire “to keep working and save more”.

Responding to a query by Nee Soon Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah regarding the Central Provident Fund (CPF) withdrawal eligibility age, Mrs Teo posited that “the introduction of re-employment legislation in 2012” has “made it possible for many Singaporeans to work beyond the age of 62”.

She suggested that lowering the CPF payout eligibility age would be unfair to Singaporeans who want to continue working at a later age in order to receive greater payout sums from age 70 onwards.