[EDITORIALS]Why raise the retirement age?The Employment Equality Promotion Bill (a tentative name), whose main point is to gradually raise the average retirement age of workers (and ban companies from laying off employees below that age for age-related reasons), will be enacted this year, and is likely to take effect next year. The government is considering setting the retirement age at 60 in 2008, then raising it by one year every five years, until it reaches 65 in 2033.
The need to reform the nation’s labor structure as the population rapidly ages justifies this proposal. But there are still doubts about whether it is time to do it, and whether this method of doing it is proper.
First, there is the question of whether the government should be raising the retirement age when youth unemployment is such a severe problem. There is a joking remark going around that most of those in their 20s are now losers. The government should make youth unemployment a higher priority.
Even if the government wants to make this change to accommodate the aging of society, it should consider the conditions that the nation’s employers face. It is not the government but companies that pay the workers. If the government forces companies, by law, to raise the retirement age, it will bring about many problems. Should the information technology industry, which especially needs young workers, be held to a mandatory retirement age of 60?
The government should let companies decide on their own whether to raise the retirement age, and should lead them to do so indirectly. For example, the wage peak system can be introduced, guaranteeing employment until a certain age in exchange for lower wages. Given the current, deteriorated business situation that domestic companies face, can these employers endure a requirement from the government that it postpone its employees’ retirement?
We are concerned that the government might have made this proposal with an eye toward the National Assembly elections in April. Why was it announced now, after only a three-month review? The government should create jobs and help unemployed youth first of all. Then, after the economy has improved, it can discuss raising the retirement age.