In this fact sheet, I will discuss about age discrimination against elderly workers in Singapore and go into how they are treated differently in the society in unemployment and employment state. This is to find out whether the young workers have an unfair advantage over elderly worker with respect to employment and salary prospect. The aspects that lead to the problem of age discrimination will also be covered in this paper. The government stance and public perceptions show on how to tackle the problem.
There are many examples of prejudice and inequality in our society and in the world we live in. These prejudices can lead to discrimination and create fractures in society and situations where people are denied access to equal rights enjoyed by others. Discrimination against persons of a certain age group is one of the examples that should be focused on, where age was instanced as the top reason for discrimination with the percentage of 29%.
Age Discrimination in Singapore
Elderly workers are usually the one neglected and receive an unfair treatment in terms of employment. Employers can discriminate by age across several areas such as wages, promotions, hiring, firing and layoff and force retirement. The reason why I choose this particular community is that there is still strong discrimination against elderly worker. In fact, most of the elderly workers always face some difficulties in finding jobs which disadvantaged them in their social lives. Most job requirements prefer younger workers as they think older workers lack or energy, flexibility, or adaptability compared to younger worker and yet there is no any legal action takes from the government, against employers who discriminate.
Moreover, the employers may think that elderly workers are unable to work on the Information Technology or may given the excuses of too slow in working progress and thus, using this as a reason to reject or sack them. The employers are also trying to use the reason of poor work performance although the main reason of firing the elderly worker is age discrimination.
Implication of Age Discrimination
Aging population is one of the problems that always concern in Singapore. As number of elderly people keeps increasing, the employment and unemployment issues might increase too. Thus, it has always been a sensitive issue when it comes to providing employment to people of different age.
If the unemployment issue happens to the elderly people, they will start to feel inferior where they are unable to provide family income and future financial security. Thus, this might become a kind of burden towards their children or the government.
The main problem faced by the elderly worker is the health and physical conditions. These are the obstacle that faced by the elderly worker when finding job.
Problem faced by employed senior citizens
Difficulties faced by senior citizens seeking work
From the table above, we are able to know that there is a high percentage of foresee difficulties in job search with the average of 90% in the age of 55 and above. Moreover, there are some reasons that caused them in difficulties in job search which relates to their age, job available too physically and mentally demanding, under-qualified and working distance between home and company. The main reason of difficulties in seeking work is because of their age with the average of 85% in the age of 55 and above.
The speech by Mr. Lim Boon Heng, Minister for Prime Minister’s Office said that there was an issue mention about the difficulties in finding job. In spite of that, a common of complaint heard in the society is “I want to work, I can work, but no one will hire me once they know my age”. Or it will be the case that first to be interviewed the older worker but last to be hired.
Inequality in Age Discrimination
Elderly workers are more in danger to job loss and longer unemployment spells, although they have lower turnover and unemployment compared with their younger counterparts. This is where inequality occurs to elderly worker in society.
In June 2009, the amount of employment in the average age of 40 (255,200) is greater than the age of 55 and above (150,700). This shows that the elderly people have the lower number in employment which disadvantages the elderly people when seeking job.
Gross Monthly Income from Work
The majority of the elderly who were employed in 2009 drew gross monthly income of less than $1,500 (33.8% for those between 65 and 69 years old and 44.2% for those 70 years old and above) falling into the $500-$900. Compared to the younger worker, the income for elderly worker is rather low.
Government Stance and Public Perceptions
The government works with NTUC and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF) to set up a “tripartite” committee to go into discrimination problems, known as Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP). This committee has created with revised guidelines on non-discriminatory job advertisements and a number of public and private sector employers pledged to comply with the non-discriminatory practices.
Beside government stance, employers should avoid age limit or age range in the job notice and making age an integral part of the application process. Training and development is also an important point to prevent discrimination against elderly worker where it encourages all employees to take the training opportunities. This training opportunity allows elderly worker manages to catch up the Information Technology.
One of the suggestions to prevent the issue of age discrimination against elderly worker will be created a rule that certain number of elderly worker should employ in the company. This is to avoid the problems of inequality against elderly worker in the society. Thus, the number of employment in a company should be equally for both younger and elderly worker.
Re-employment creates a win-win situation for employers and older employees in Singapore. Compare to raising the statutory retirement age, it offers greater flexibility.
On the other hand, according to preliminary findings from 2009 survey by Ministry of Manpower, the vast majority of 92% of them were allowed to continue to work beyond the age of 62. 60% who were allowed to continue to work beyond 62 and 30% who were offered re-employment. These finding shows that they still value older worker.
As Ralph B. Perry said ‘Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.’
In conclusion, job discrimination against elderly worker in Singapore still exists and the government and public perceptions have been trying very hard to solve and prevent the issue of job discrimination against elderly worker. The job discrimination creates inequality in term of age group. This may cause social tension and threaten to Singapore aging population.
The finding shows that there is noticeable age discrimination as the employment rate for older worker is not very high. However, there is still a finding that shows the employers do value older worker, this might not be a strong solution and unable to sustain in the future.
In order to prevent or solve the problem of discrimination against elderly worker, Singaporeans should follow what the government stance and public perceptions that applied or suggested to the issue, where the solution given might workable in some ways.