Call to abolish pension age
(CNS): A member of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly is hoping to persuade the government benches that the current retirement age is too low and that Caymanians should no longer be forced to retire at the age of sixty. Ezzard Miller, the member for North Side, has filed a private members motion asking the UDP government to abolish the mandatory retirement age and let workers choose whether or not they want to work beyond a certain age. Miller told CNS that many of his constituents are facing compulsory retirement from their jobs in the private sector as well as the civil service but few have pensions big enough to support them.
Miller said that all of the laws and other barriers, such as problems with health insurance for the over sixties, should be removed to enable people to work if they want to or in many cases need to. Miller said he is happy for government to maintain a voluntary retirement of 55 years of age for those that can afford to leave their jobs but, given the life expectancy versus the poor pensions some people have, the idea of enforced retirement is simply untenable for many people.
“With a sixty percent over employment problem in Cayman, we don’t face the same arguments against allowing people to work beyond sixty as some other jurisdictions. People cannot say that pensioners would be stealing other people’s jobs,’ he added.
The increase in the quality of life and health care for many people in Cayman today means that reaching the age of sixty should no longer be a barrier to work. Miller said that forcing people to retire years and years before they are likely to die was not only a waste of skills but was condemning them to a life of poverty.
According to research in the US, modern female retirees have a 50% chance of living to age 88 and a one in four chance of living to 94.
As the law compelling employers to pay pensions is relatively new, many people who are now at retirement age have nowhere near enough money invested in their pensions to offer them a comfortable retirement. Miller said they could face years of financial struggle ahead of them if they are prevented from working.
He pointed out that government is circumventing the issue in some cases by re-contracting civil servants after retirement and over the age of sixty in order to retain skilled and experience staff, so it was time to abolish the retirement age.
The motion, which is supported by the PPM member for East End Arden McLean, was filed on Tuesday and Miller said he hopes it will reach the parliamentary order paper for the next meeting of the LA, which is due to start on 9 May.
A considerable body of medical research has also drawn a correlation to the onset of health problems, both mental and physical, with enforced retirement. Regular retirees can suffer a 16 percent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and a 9 percent decline in mental health, but this can be worse in those forced to retire when they don’t want to.
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