As Singaporean seniors live longer and healthier, they are challenging the traditional notion of how we can spend our golden years.
In 2017, the Government raised the re-employment age from 65 to 67. This was aimed at ensuring older workers who wanted to keep working could continue to do so, and to increase the labour supply in a tight labour market.
Obviously, we know that some seniors cannot afford not to work, due to financial reasons. But for those who are still in good physical condition and have the choice of retiring, here are 5 perks you will enjoy if you choose to work during your golden years.
# 1 Company Health Insurance
For most multi-national companies (MNCs) and many Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), group insurance coverage is a standard benefit for all employees.
If you worked for the same company over a long time, your company plan would be covering the illnesses you discovered over your long years of service. Leaving your company and getting your own private health insurance would mean these conditions will be excluded from coverage.
For some, health insurance is extended to the employee’s immediate family too. Replacing these policies can add up to over thousands of dollars, which can be a major consideration for you to continue working.
# 2 Tax Reliefs
Older workers enjoy higher Earned Income Relief, which means a larger part of their salaries is tax-free. This can be substantial since for most white-collar jobs, peak earning years are near the end of their careers when professionals have many years of experience and extensive networks under their belt.
For those aged between 55 to 59, the Earned Income Relief is $6,000. For those 60 and above, the figure goes up to $8,000. This can go up to even higher to $12,000, for those who are able to work in spite of some form of disability.
# 3 Workfare Income Supplement (WIS)
For older workers who may not earn enough to be eligible for income tax reliefs, they can benefit from top-ups to their income under the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS).
WIS applies to employees or self-employed individuals who are Singaporeans, aged 35 and above or with disabilities, and earn no more than $2,000 for the month worked. While the income supplement amount differs depending on individual circumstances, employees aged above 60 can receive up to $3,600 of cash and CPF top-ups per year. This scheme applies to part-time workers too.
# 4 Retrenchment Benefits
For those who worked with the same company for many years, retrenchment benefits on average range from 2 weeks to a month’s pay for each year of service. If you’ve been in the same company for 20 years, and get compensated one month’s pay per year served, you could be getting over 1.5 years worth of your last-drawn salary. Did you know that retrenchment benefits are also tax-free?
Long-term employees might consider holding out for retrenchment, especially if the company appears to be scaling down, but you should not count on it.
Note that while paying out retrenchment benefits is common practice, there is no statutory requirement for a company to pay retrenchment benefits. Retrenchment benefits are only compulsory and enforceable if you have worked for over two years and if there is a retrenchment benefits clause specified in your employment contract.
# 5 Maintaining The Same Level Of Pay
Older employees retaining the same job and workload should not fear a pay cut, since the government has stated that wages should not be changed just because of age.
To support both older workers and employers, the government introduced the Special Employment Credit (SEC). SEC is a wage subsidy for employers, where the government offsets between 3% to 11% of the salary for older workers earning less than $4,000 a month.
From the perspective of the employer, if you factor in that CPF contributions are lower for older workers, it can cost you less to hire an older worker at the same salary.
As more workplaces get increasingly elderly-friendly with the widespread adoption of new technologies, it is growingly possible for employees to continue working at an older age. This applies even for blue-collar workers, as generous subsidies from the government and tight foreign labour quotas encourage companies to embrace older workers.
Older workers who want to enjoy a slower pace of life can consider scaling down their workload, instead of full retirement. This enables them to continue receiving most of the perks listed above, while holding on to a less stressful job, thus enjoying the best of both worlds.
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