Wednesday 20 September 2017

Employees should not be 'pressurised' into working for longer than they wish - union chief

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar wants to make compulsory retirement illegal Photo: Tom Burke
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar wants to make compulsory retirement illegal Photo: Tom Burke

Ryan Nugent and Niall O'Connor

SIPTU chief Jack O'Connor has said employees should not be "pressurised" into opting to work for longer.

Under new Government plans led by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, workers will be incentivised to retire at an older age in a bid to tackle the pensions time bomb.

Workers will be offered a larger State pension the longer they work. The plans are aimed at tackling the rising costs of State pensions while also clamping down on age discrimination, with Mr Varadkar hoping to make compulsory retirement in the workplace illegal.

Mr O'Connor said while the plans could address a number of issues with pension provisions and retirement, the finer detail needed to be looked at.

"It would have to be enshrined in the primary legislation that this was entirely voluntary and that under no circumstances would any individual be pressurised in any way into opting to work longer unless they wished to do so," Mr O'Connor said.

Mr O'Connor said those working in more physically demanding professions should not miss out on increased State pensions. He said the number of years workers have contributed should be taken into account.

"For example, people working in the construction industry, given the rigours of that life, there are very few people that can work beyond the age of 62 or 63," he said.

Meanwhile, Ibec says higher youth unemployment could become an issue if those at pension age decide to carry on working longer.

Ibec policy chief Fergal O'Brien said they would be supportive of people working to an older age and the State pension incentive was sensible.

"We would be concerned if we're going to lose flexibility from a workforce planning perspective. Employers need to have vacancies, they need to bring workers through in terms of career development," he said.

He said employers should be given the flexibility of offering alternative roles to older staff.

Last night Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea accused the Government of the "worst kind of political plagiarism", saying a similar proposal put forward by the party in 2014 was rejected.

Irish Independent

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