Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes
You’re Never Too Old To Work
Have you ever wondered what will happen to your retired or soon-to-retire parents after you’re married? Not that anything bad is going to happen to them after you’ve said “I do”, but more accurately, what your parents are going to do with their time now that they don’t have to work and fuss over you.
Iadmit I have, even though both my parents are currently employed and enjoy a set of social activities outside work. But when my father was on a month-long medical leave a while back, he was complaining of boredom by the end of the first week. I also recall my mother making the same complaint when she was on an enforced week of leave. Even with the activities they enjoy (my father helps out at the temple we visit regularly, and my mother attends weekly dancing lessons), they couldn’t bear to stay home for more than a few days. So it makes me wonder how life would be for them when the time comes for them to retire and I won’t be home for them to fuss over.
Retirement: Good or Bad?
After witnessing my parents’ response to not having to work for a short period of time, I realised that while most of us fantasise about the day we can retire from the rat race, not all of us are suited for a life of idleness. Sure, the early stages of life after retirement might appear idyllic. After all, who doesn’t appreciate not having to wake up at 7 a.m. in the morning, squeezing with others on the train to and from work, and working late into the night every day? But once you’ve used this new found freedom to complete the items on your bucket list, you’ll find that life after retirement is actually pretty boring, lonely and unsatisfactory.
Of Retirement and Re-employment
Did you know that Singapore has the fourth best life expectancy in the world? The average lifespan of a Singaporean is 82 years. Compare this to our retirement age of 62 and re-employment age of 65, and most people would have another good 15 to 20 years before the end of the road. That’s a lot of time to while away before we’re at the end of our journey. No wonder some retirees feel bored, lonely and purposeless!
The labour movement is currently pushing to extend the re-employment age from 65 to 67. Deputy Secretary-General at National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Mr Heng Chee How said earlier this year: “With life expectancy continuing to rise, I firmly believe that the re-employment age ceiling need not and cannot stagnate at 65.”
If NTUC is successful in its push to up the re-employment age, it will effectively put the choice in the hands of the retiring folks. They can decide to stay employed beyond the retirement age if they wish, since employers will have to offer retiring workers re-employment beyond the retirement age of 62. Staying in the workforce for longer has multiple advantages, like keeping the senior citizens active, giving them a purpose in life, and also letting them stay in touch with the world instead of being cooped up at home. And of course, the income can also help contribute to a bigger nest egg.
Now, I’m not saying that retirement is bad. It’s great if retirement life agrees with your parents. In fact, having retired parents or parents-in-law is a bonus for you and your groom-to-be, especially if you’re expecting a little one. You’ll always have a helping hand with your newborn when you need one, and you can rest easy knowing that your babe is in good hands when it’s time for you to return to work. But for some individuals, retirement is not something they look forward to.
Why Re-employment and What Being Employed Means to Them and Your Family
Which is why I would encourage my parents to seek re-employment when the time comes, because being employed is no longer just a source of income for them, but an avenue that offers them a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. It makes them feel useful and needed, and keeps them connected with the happenings in society. Through re-employment, they also get to make new friends who are at the same stage in life. That means, they are less likely to be dependent on my brother and I for company, emotional fulfillment and financial support. And when they are leading a life of purpose and emotional satisfaction, they are more likely to live a more balanced and happy life, which in turn results in a healthier family nucleus to integrate my other half or bring a babe into!
I would encourage you to do the same for your retired or soon-to-be retired parents or parents-in-law. Although most companies are allowed to re-employ their retired staff until the age of 65, some companies such as SingPost offer employment opportunities past the age of 65. So, if your parents or parents-in-law are up for it, they can stay in the workforce for as long as they want and are able to!
This article is part of a series of labour movement initiatives brought to you by NTUC. To learn more, check out What Are Your Rights At Retirement? and visit http://www.ulive.sg for more details on your retirement and re-employment rights.