[EDITORIALS]Kicking out older workersKoreans today often say that you should retire at age 45 and that you are a thief if you still draw a salary at age 56.
That saying and the large number of young people who cannot find jobs because of age limits are indicative of a serious problem. With the rapid aging of society and the drop in the birth rate, efficient use of human resources has become a task that needs attention at the national level. The reality, though, is much different.
Retirement of older workers during the course of corporate restructuring has become common. The JoongAng Ilbo’s series on age discrimination illustrated this trend, which has worsened after the financial crisis. At banks, no one other than executives are over age 50. At corporations, word spreads every resassignment season as to who has to go because of his age. Because there is no objective evaluation system, age has become the criteria for retirement.
Age also poses a barrier for young people looking for jobs. According to the Korea Labor Institute, one in two Korean companies sets upper age limits for new hires. There are such limits for government jobs also. There is clearly a problem if people are barred from working without an evaluation of their skills.
People in their 50s are are likely to incur the largest expenses of all age groups because of their children’s education. Forcing them out of the job market is not a positive thing. Not only are talented people forced to retire, but the government will have to bear that much more expense for their welfare.
To prevent the waste of skilled human resources, wage ceilings must also end. They are a system in which a person earns less after he reaches a certain age. Of course, people should first realize that they earn their wages in accordance with their abilities, and that there are no longer life-time employment and late retirement ages.
Advanced industrial countries such as the United States ban age discrimination by law. Since a bill on revising the employment law has already been introduced in the National Assembly, the debate on age discrimination should become more active.