Employers to receive Special Employment Credit for hiring older workers

Older workers in Singapore. (file pic)

SINGAPORE: More than 52,000 employers will receive a total of about S$19 million this month under the Special Employment Credit (SEC).

The amount is for employing about 171,000 older low—wage Singaporeans in the second half of 2011.

Introduced last year, the SEC aims to encourage companies to employ more older workers by subsidising their wages.

The first disbursement was made in September 2011 and more than 51,000 companies have benefited from it so far.

An enhanced scheme was announced at this year’s Budget to enable a bigger pool of older workers to qualify.

The first payment of the enhanced SEC will take place in September 2012.

Juraimi Lee has been working in the pest control management industry for more than 20 years.

The 61—year—old started as a junior technician and he has worked his way up to become an operations executive.

He said: "We inspect all the problems based on what the customers tell us. By the end of the job, if he said very good, we will feel happy, we feel proud that we did a proper job for them."

Pestbusters has 12 workers aged above 50, and most of them have been with the company for a long time.

Pestbusters has been receiving wage subsidies from the government for employing older workers like Juraimi.

The company wants to take in more of such workers, but they are finding it hard to recruit them.

The wage subsidy scheme was enhanced this year with more companies expected to benefit from it.

But for Pestbusters, it’s the job fit that matters, not incentives.

Thomas Fernandez, CEO and Chairman, said: "We had one or two who came in and tried out the job. After two days they just gave up, they said it’s too taxing, they can’t do this job. The reason is that they have not been doing this kind of hard labour, henceforth they say this is not the job for them."

However, Thai Express finds the Special Employment Credit helpful as older workers make up 25 per cent of its workforce.

Its HR Director Ng Yee Chong said the wage subsidy will further motivate it to take in more of such workers.

Ng said: "Definitely we have plans to increase the percentage, not because we need to increase it but we actually find that mature workers are more reliable. They have more passion in their work, they take pride in their work and it helps us fill up all the employment gaps."

The company is also trying to employ technology to be more productive in its operations.

— CNA/ck