Re-employment guidelines revised: For better or worse?

Photo credit: Peter Thoeny (Creative Commons)Photo credit: Peter Thoeny (Creative Commons)

Guidelines on re-employment of older workers revised 

I refer to the article “Highlights of revised Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Workers” (Straits Times, May 18).

Employer determines performance and fitness to be re-employed?

It states that “Employers should aim to re-employ the majority of their older employees. Re-employment contracts should be offered to all employees who are medically fit to continue working and whose performance are assessed satisfactory or better.”

Does this mean that the employer can arbitrarily choose not to offer re-employment to the employee, if the employee is assessed by his employer to not have satisfactory work performance or is not medically fit to continue working?

Employer can offer any terms?

As to “Employers and employees are encouraged to be flexible in negotiating re-employment terms and benefits. Reasonable adjustments to employment terms, including wages and benefits, may be made – but employers should consider the impact on the income of re-employed staff, particularly low-wage workers” – does this mean that an employer can offer any terms – large pay cut, longer work hours, heavier work load, different job scope, etc – and if the employee does not accept – the employer would have fulfilled its obligations under the legislation?

In such situations, the employee may not be eligible for any Employment Assistance Payment (EAP) at all?

One-time payment of $5,500 to $13,000?

With regard to “Employers should consider all available re-employment options to identify suitable jobs for eligible staff. If employers are unable to offer re-employment, as a last resort, they are required to offer an Employment Assistance Payment (EAP). Revised EAP amounts – that could be 3.5 months of salary, at a minimum of $5,500 and capped at $13,000 – take into account rising wages and the fact that employers’ re-employment obligations will be extended by two years” – does it mean that If the employer does not want even to offer any terms – its just a one-time payment of $5,500 to $13,000?

Protecting workers?

Isn’t the legislation and guidelines arguably, rather weak in protecting workers? Do we have possibly the weakest re-employment legislation in the world, from the perspective of workers’ rights?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.