THINKING of returning to the workforce after retirement? There may be limited options available to you because most companies still prefer hiring younger workers, but that’s no reason to agree to any old terms and allow others to take advantage of you.
Mohd Ghazali Abdul Ghaib, president of both the Gerontological Association of Malaysia and the Malaysian Association of Human Resource Consultants, believes that as long as a person can contribute efficiently, they should not be barred from working.
“Sometimes, aged people are more committed, loyal, sincere … so they should be retained as good examples for other employees and as pillars of the company. We should not just look at the age,” he says.
Ghazali believes that the employee’s contract should not even specify that they need to retire at a certain age.
According to him, the average lifespan for men is now 73 and for women it’s 78, so they can still contribute up till the age of 70, at least.
“But we freeze them out at age 60. Why? What are they going to do? They become a social problem because economically they feel that they are useless, psychologically they feel that they are useless …. I think we are not being fair to senior citizens.
“The first example of age discrimination is, you are 70, you’re old already, we have no place for you.
“Age should not be part of the employment contract,” says Ghazali.
For those seeking re-employment after retirement, their contract is usually on a monthly or annual basis. A short-term contract makes it easy for both sides. This way, if either party wants to rescind the contract it will be easier.
“You can have the contract month to month, so if next month you are sick, you can go because you are not medically fit,” he says.
Ghazali believes that retirees should ask for flexibility in their terms and conditions – it could be to work for just three days a week, flexi-hours or to work from home.
This is especially applicable for those involved in the IT line.
“These days, in the IT industry especially, you might be here but your boss is in the US. If IT industry staff can work from home, why can’t our senior citizens?
“It’s a matter of changing the mindset,” says Ghazali.
Of course, health benefits should also be in the contract. Pensioners might not bother about the medical benefits because they are covered; the government pays for it. But health benefits is still one of the important terms to watch out for with the escalating price of healthcare. These days, a lot of companies have group insurance for their employees, so it should not be an issue to include retirees.
There might not be full coverage for retirees returning to the workforce because they are at a higher risk of being hospitalised. However, companies can still offer coverage with a maximum limit.
As far as Ghazali knows there is no law to protect retirees who are re-entering the workforce.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to read the terms and conditions, ask the right questions, find out the benefits and look after your own rights as an employee.
Today, most Malaysians retire at the designated retirement age and turn into grandchildren minders and chauffeurs.
They are seen to have an expiry date when it comes to employment in an office, unless of course they are in senior management.
“Companies care so much about making a profit and forget to focus on the assets that they have – the human factor. It’s a simple-minded way of looking at things rather than living in the challenging world of a borderless society.
“Physically and mentally retirees are fit, so they should be given the opportunity. Retirees who want to be employed, should be given the opportunity.
“We have a reservoir of thousands of experienced and skilled workers who have been abandoned. I think they should be given the opportunity for re-employment,” says Ghazali.