News Articles

Voluntary participation needed in working past retirement age

A ‘fresh map of life’

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - Automatic and mandatory retirement at age 65 soon may be a thing of the past in the Netherlands. Demographic evolution - the greying of the population - increasingly puts the onus on fewer workers to provide for more retirees who live longer than ever and who expect top quality of life.

The Dutch government is contemplating legislation to drastically change the current Old Age Pension system in place since 1957. The goal is to keep people working longer, for many an unpopular proposal.

The Task Force on the Elderly and Work says the problem was already clear ten years ago. The group proposes to improve labour participation of many retirees in a lot of areas.

Voluntary participation, according to the task force, is needed because compulsary participation will never work in a society such as the Netherlands. It says that people must get used to such ideas as self-fulfillment, enjoying life, freedom, and making their own decisions. ”It won’t be easy to change all the agreements on early retirement which people have got used to in recent decades.”

In order to meet the requirements of older workers, efforts should be made to create more freedom for those at the end of their careers. They should be able to make their own decisions, not to be too dependent on an employer’s wishes.

At present, most employers, including the government, often pension workers off when reaching age 55. The result is looming shortages of labour in many areas.

The Task Force on the Elderly and Work contends that the Netherlands will have part-time retirement as an option, next to part-time work. A good mix of retirement schemes with end-of-working-life schemes would solve many problems.

It is generally believed that many people over 55 would prefer to work longer, depending on the quality of the job, and the measure of job flexibility. People nowadays live 80, 85, even 90 years. For many people this would mean 25 or 30 years of retirement. The Task Force on the Elderly and Work calls this ‘a fresh map of life’ in which people could enjoy new things and still keep active.