Singapore will raise both its retirement and re-employment ages, but by how much is yet to be decided.

The announcement was made by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on 5 March after a workgroup formed of private sector, trade union and Government representatives came to an agreement.

What happens now?

Although no details on when or how the changes will take effect, Minister Teo described the move as "a “significant milestone”. She said that the workgroup will need more months to finalise its detailed recommendations and come to formal agreement.

It is likely that any increases will only take effect slowly and be phased in over time.

The last increase in retirement age - from 60 to 62 - took place in 1999. There has never been an increase in re-employment age (it only came into effect in 2012).

Why increase it?

Older Singaporeans are healthier than ever. They enjoy more years of good health and will remain just as productive at work as their younger colleagues. The argument is that a higher retirement age will motivate both workers and employers to invest in upskilling and redesigning the jobs of older workers to ensure that they can continue to participate in the labour market whilst retaining business efficiency (Which would be lost if retirement ages were abolished altogether).

Additionally, businesses in Singapore are more willing today to hire older workers. Age discrimination is less of an issue: over 90% of those who are eligible for re-employment will receive it.

The Singapore way is always to strike a balance, to be pro-worker and pro-business in all that we do.
— Minister Teo

How has this proposal been received?

The move was largely welcomed by MPs.

NMP Arasu Duraisamy last week called for the retirement age to be raised to 65 and re-employment age raised to 70. He welcomed the announcement from Minister Teo.

The move was also welcomed by former labour NMP K Thanaletchimi, although slightly less enthusiastically. She described the proposal as “slightly overdue” and said that workers appreciate the “greater certainty” of a higher retirement age. She added that while increasing the re-employment age is also positive, it does not give as much certainty as the retirement age, because re-employment offers are made on a contractual basis.

Given the notion of active ageing, many people would want to stay gainfully employed even though they could be past the retirement age.
— Mr Irvin Seah, senior economist with DBS bank

Retirement vs re-employment

For more on age discrimination in Singapore and the difference between retirement and re-employment, visit our international guide.