Business community agrees to hire retirees

Angie Tan

Business leaders say allowing retirees to re-enter the workforce is a good thing as they not only have knowledge but also years of experience. – EPA pic, September 15, 2023.

THE proposal to allow retirees to re-enter the workforce in a flexible manner was unanimously backed by industry.

They said it was a development in the right direction as many of those at their retirement age are still productive and able to still contribute their expertise and knowledge.

Among those who backed the move was Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Oliver Wee Hiang Chyn who thinks the current retirement age of 60 seems too early.

“Allowing retirees to return to work is definitely a good thing. They not only have knowledge but also years of experience.

“This does not mean getting them to do manual labour on construction sites, but rather taking on advisory roles in companies.

“For example, when a company’s senior management staff is replaced by a new person, during this transition phase, the retiree with the experience could come in to lead and ensure that business operations continue smoothly,” Wee told The Malaysian Insight.

He said retirees could work on a part-time basis in such advisory positions.

Wee said while he welcomes retirees to re-enter the workforce, consideration should also be given to the career advancement opportunities of younger employees.

“I have always believed that important positions should be promoted from within the company. Re-engaging them (retirees) will have no drawbacks because companies are not hiring them in numbers.

“That’s because not all retirees are willing to return to work. Most actually look forward to a carefree life.

“Those who are willing to return to the workforce are often people who have a strong passion for work.”

SME Association of Malaysia national secretary-general Chin Chee Seong pointed out that certain industries, particularly digital, technology, finance and banking, have difficulty in finding the right people.

He said the proposal to re-hire them would help fill job gaps and accelerate Malaysia’s vision of becoming a high-income nation.

“It allows young, inexperienced employees to learn from the seniors.”

Chin, however, admits there is a downside in hiring retirees.

“It limits the employment opportunities of younger employees, especially in industries with limited job openings.

SME Association of Malaysia national secretary-general Chin Chee Seong says the proposal to re-hire retirees will help fill job gaps and accelerate Malaysia’s vision of becoming a high-income nation. – Facebook pic, September 15, 2023.

“It could also lead to an increase in youth unemployment and hinder new talent from entering the job market.”

Malaysia’s unemployment rate for 2022 was at 3.73%, a drop of 0.32%  from 2021 while it was 4.05% for 2021, a decline of 0.49% from 2020.

Chin also said in re-hiring old hands, new and innovative ideas in the company could be stunted with the continuation of outdated practices.

He said the Human Resources Ministry, when promoting policies for the re-employment of retirees, needs to ensure they do not compete with the young employees climbing the company ladder.

He proposed that the re-hiring should be only for positions that require specific skills and setting a cap on how many each company could re-employ.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Soh Thian Lai said the reality is that it is not uncommon for retirees to return to work after their retirement, which is already an existing industry practice.

Soh said there was nothing to stop employees from returning to work upon reaching their retirement age and neither are there any restrictions imposed on employers from a legal or social perspective to hire employees past their retirement age.

He said while many of those at their retirement age are still productive and able to continue to contribute their expertise and knowledge, including in guiding younger employees in the company, the decision to offer and accept post-retirement employment should be on a voluntary basis and should not be legislated.

“In sectors where there is a shortage of workers, especially skilled workers, the post-retirement employment opportunity should be encouraged as a means to address this problem, subject to the suitability of the jobs for those who have reached their retirement age, especially for jobs which are more physical in nature.

“The terms of employment be it on a contractual, project, part-time or casual basis would depend on the type of job and industry/economic sector,” Soh said.

Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar had on September 5 said he will propose in Budget 2024 to allow retirees to return to the workforce.

He said this was because many who were forced to retire at the age of 60 are still healthy and capable of working.

He said the work could be flexible and does not necessarily have to be full-time.

Sivakumar, however, said the proposal will have to get the approval of the Finance Ministry, and if approved, his ministry will then explore further how it should be implemented. – September 15, 2023.

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