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Public service retirement age raised to 68

Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance

Legislation to raise the mandatory retirement age for Public Service workers by three years was passed with unanimous support in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said the Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act would increase the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 68.

Police officers, firefighters and Bermuda Regiment soldiers will not be affected by the change.

However, Mr Dickinson said that discussions were under way with representatives of the uniformed services to decide what changes could be made.

He added that the island’s ageing population and a predicted reduction in the number of working-age people meant action had to be taken.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said the Opposition backed the legislation.

Mr Pearman added that many seniors could hold down a job despite their age.

He said: “The idea that certain people in the workforce must have a forcible departure because of the year they were born is nonsensical.”

Mr Pearman said that, while some might be concerned that an increase to the retirement age might slow the ability of younger workers to move up the ranks, that concern was outweighed by other factors.

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, added that many seniors had suffered unfair treatment and that there was no place for age discrimination in modern society.

Mr Burgess said the legislation did not force seniors to work past the age of 65, but gave them the option to do so if they wanted.

He added: “This doesn’t effect your social insurance cheque. That social insurance cheque you get at 65 will continue.

“The only cheque you won’t get is the superannuation cheque.”

Michael Dunkley, an OBA backbencher, said: “Seniors have a lot to offer. They have that experience.

“They built up relationships, not just within the workplace, but also outside the workplace.”

Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, said seniors could benefit from remaining in the workplace because it kept their minds and bodies active.

Claudette Fleming, the executive director of charity Age Concern, added that the amendment was a “victory” for seniors.

She said: “While Age Concern would like to have seen an amendment to the Human Rights Act abolishing age as a basis of discrimination in the workplace, the amendment to the Superannuation Act represents a significant benchmark for change community-wide.”

Dr Fleming added: “senator Jason Hayward and fellow members of the Retirement Age, Labour Advisory Committee are to be commended for the thorough research and groundwork that was done to provide policymakers with the necessary recommendations to make an informed decision regarding the necessity of the amendment.

“Our hope is that the increase in the retirement age will allow those who wish to work longer the opportunity to do so and, for those who may not be in a financial position to retire, the opportunity to continue to be gainfully employed for a longer period of time in their senior years.”

Dr Fleming added that the Labour Advisory Committee report contained other recommendations that she hoped the Government would adopt, including mandatory retirement education and financial literacy programmes.

She said: “Such initiatives remain necessary to maximise the social and financial benefits of continuing in the workforce past traditional retirement years.”