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DOLE cool to removing mandatory retirement age

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOLE cool to removing mandatory retirement age
Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said in a radio interview yesterday that a thorough study must be done before the government gives the go-signal for the removal of mandatory retirement age.
Jun Mendoza / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is cool to the idea of removing the fixed retirement age.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said in a radio interview yesterday that a thorough study must be done before the government gives the go-signal for the removal of mandatory retirement age.

“For us in the DOLE, we want to study this thoroughly. That is not a simple matter that should be decided immediately. We need careful study of that kind of proposal,” said Laguesma, citing the need to weigh its advantages and disadvantages.

He said there may also be existing laws that run contrary to the proposal to remove the retirement age.

In a CNN Philippines interview, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Commissioner Aileen Lizada also echoed the need to thoroughly study the proposed House bill seeking to remove the 65 years old mandatory age of retirement, at least in terms of its application in the government service.?

“If you lift the mandatory age of retirement, you have to consult GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) on this. Because you’re talking about the fund life of the GSIS,” Lizada told CNN’s “The Source.”

“All these have already been projected by GSIS – who will retire, when will they retire. And the funds of GSIS have been invested, they know the ROI (return of investment), they know how much is involved when one retires,” she added.

Under proposed House Bill 3220, filed by Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes Jr., an employee who reaches 65 years “can choose to continue” his or her employment provided that the senior citizen “qualifies under the bona fide occupational qualifications of (his or her) job.”

The proposed bill also states that the burden to prove that the worker is no longer capable rests with the employer.

The measure, if approved, will repeal a provision in the Labor Code that sets the compulsory retirement age at 65 years.

But Lizada pointed out that proponents of the bill must also amend Republic Act 8291 (The Revised GSIS Act), which sets the age of optional retirement at 60 years old and mandatory retirement at 65 years old for government workers.

KMU voices opposition

Meanwhile, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed its opposition to the proposal and called for the improvement of existing laws.

“I think it’s not in place that the mandatory retirement age should be cancelled as of now,” KMU chairman Elmer Labog said in a separate television interview. “The existing laws should be improved – and give better benefits both in private and government enterprises.”

Labog said workers who served for so long also deserve to be with their family and enjoy quality of life.

At present, Lizada noted that the Philippines has the oldest age for mandatory retirement compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors.

A consultation with government workers conducted by the CSC in 2019 revealed that 98 percent to 99 percent of those consulted were in favor of lowering the optional age of retirement to 56 years from the current 60.

The same percentage wants the mandatory age of retirement to remain at 65 in order to complete the required 15 years in government service to qualify for full retirement benefits.

Hire the elderly

Yesterday, Sen. Joel Villanueva underscored that private companies should be hiring senior citizens and cited how National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Arsenio Balisacan has responded positively to this setup.

Earlier, the NEDA said it backed the proposal to remove the mandatory retirement age of 65.?

“We will pursue the passage of our bill seeking to promote equal work opportunities for senior citizens and encourage private companies to hire them,” Villanueva said. –  Elizabeth Marcelo, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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