More Malaysians opt to stay in active employment after retirement: Study

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are expected to continue to stay active in the workforce and seek employment beyond the age of 60 years old, pushing the need for measures to be put in place to deal with ageing labour matters as the country is set to become an ageing nation, a survey found.

The survey, conducted by University of Malaya's Social Security Research Centre (SSRC), showed that greater life expectancy also means individuals must either delay his/her retirement and work more years, save more while working or have lower consumption in retirement.

"As a result of declining fertility and increasing life expectancy, Malaysia is currently experiencing a steady increase in the proportion of older people relative to the total population.

"The number of Malaysians aged 60 years and above is projected to reach 3.5 million in 2020 and 6.3 million in 2040 which is about 20% of the total population," SSRC director Professor Datuk Norma Mansor said.

Quoting a report by the Statistics Department in 2016, she said it also showed that a male aged 65 in 2016 could expect to live to age 80 years and a female is expected to live to age 82 years.

"Ageing can entail multiple losses, including loss of work and physical functioning. How prepared are we in meeting our health and financial obligations in later life?" she said in the report titled "Ageing and Retirement: Perceptions and Expectations among Malaysians", made available to Bernama here today.

Norma said of the 518 Malaysians who had responded to the survey, almost all had indicated that they would like to live to at least 80 years, yet many are not self-assured financially about having a comfortable life throughout their retirement years.

She said only slightly half of those surveyed were confident of having a comfortable life while the rest were not very optimistic. Professionals were found to be more certain of having a comfortable post-retirement life compared to their non-professional peers.

According to the same report, 70% of those surveyed said they would expect to live between six to 20 years more after attaining the age of sixty and will continue working as long as their mental and physical capabilities permit.

They also felt that there should not be mandatory retirement, as it was seen as one of the most efficient methods for many individuals to finance the increased number of years in retirement.

"In preparation for post-retirement, respondents indicated their plan to boost their savings by reducing current expenses and reducing their cost of living in retirement.

"A quarter of those surveyed had intended to move to a cheaper location, while others would turn to family members for assistance or consider living in an assisted living facility such as a retirement village, while a good number of respondents said they would turn to the government for old age support," she said.

Norma also pointed out that currently only 80% of the total 13.5 million employed labour force in Malaysia had some form of retirement savings and government pensions although government pensions were not contributory.

She said as a preparation for the increase in the number of ageing workforce, organisations now had to think about how they would deal with that change in a way that was appropriate for the industries they were in and the workers they employed.

According to her, workers too had to be willing to continually upgrade their skills and undergo retraining. She also revealed that the centre was working on a blueprint for ageing and how to prepare for it in Malaysia.

"Post retirement jobs may entail a different nature, which one may even find interesting. On the issue of employing people post-retirement, these are labour matters," she added.

She pointed out that since financial issue is an important reason for retirees to return to the labour market, employers should consider offering "bridge jobs" either full or part-time as an extension of current work that would help ease a worker's transition into retirement.

Citing Singapore as an example, she said its Special Employment Credit (SEC), which was introduced in 2011 to support employers and to raise the employability of older Singaporean workers and persons with disability, provided wage-offset to employers hiring Singaporean workers aged 55 and above until the re-employment age ceiling of 67.

In Australia, she said the Wage Subsidies for Matured Age Job Seekers (RESTART) employers can receive up to $10,000 depending on eligibility for a full time employee while in Japan, its government provides subsidy programs under the "Law for Employment Stabilisation for Older People" to employers who either continue employment of existing older workers or who hire older persons. — Bernama