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February 9, 2010

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Retirements may be delayed to ease strain on city pension fund

SHANGHAI plans to extend the retirement age for men and women to relieve pressure on its pension fund, this year's annual human resources and social security conference was told yesterday.

"We will put off the retirement age of citizens, especially for female professionals," said Vice Mayor Hu Yanzhao.

Shanghai's retirement pension fund is in deficit, according to Hu.

If people retire later, their incomes will come from employers, Hu said.

Thus, both employees and employers will have to continue to pay social insurance, which may relieve the shortage in the pension fund.

However, companies usually prefer to retire their employees and then re-recruit them, rather than keeping them on longer.

This is because a retired employee will receive a monthly pension so their former business can justify re-hiring him or her for a smaller salary.

At present, the retirement age for men is 60 and for women 50 or 55, depending on their jobs.

Hu did not detail at the conference how many years people should postpone retirement, but many experts suggested it should be five years.

Professionals - holders of senior certificates in various fields, such as university professors, engineers, doctors and technicians - will get the chance to retire later.

By the end of 2008, the population above the age of 60 registered in Shanghai reached more than 3 million - 21.6 percent of the numbers in the city.

It is expected to climb to 3.12 million this year.

"I would like to work a few years more after I turn 60 as I am still competent and healthy," said a Wu, 53, a college teacher.

Idea supported

"I think it's a good idea for professionals to retire later," said Meng Jie, 24, a postgraduate student.

"And construction workers, for example, who usually retire at the age of 50 when they are still capable of work, will benefit from postponement."

However, Meng's worry was whether the policy would affect the employment prospects of graduates.

About 168,000 students will graduate from city universities and colleges this summer, compared with 158,000 last year.

And more than 10,000 young people, who graduated last year or earlier but failed to gain employment, would make the grim job market more crowded, said Hu.

He regarded graduates as needing most attention when talking about employment.

Zhou Haiyang, director of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said at the conference that the bureau would provide technical training courses to migrant workers who participated in the city's social insurance program this year.


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