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November 8, 2012

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Woman sues ex-employer for 'forcing' her to retire

A 55-YEAR-OLD woman who said she was forced to retire five years ago took her former employer to court and was seeking five years of wages.

The plaintiff, surnamed Qin, told Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court yesterday that since the Shanghai government has started a trial of raising the retirement age for women, she should not have been forced into retirement. She wants the school to pay her for the five years she says she should have been allowed to work.

Qin told the court she went to work as usual on July 20, 2007. She received a notice that day from the social security center saying she had retired. Qin, who was then 50, was stunned at the notice because she thought she could work until 55, the retirement age for women in key positions.

In China, the legal retirement age is 60 for men. It is 50 or 55 for women, depending on the job.

In 2010, the city government started a trial to postpone the retirement age to alleviate the pressure on social welfare payments.

But companies usually prefer to retire their employees and then re-recruit them, rather than keep them on longer. This is because a retired employee will receive a monthly pension, enabling the business to justify re-hiring that person at a smaller salary.

The court heard Qin was an employee of Shanghai Commercial Accounting School. She signed a contract with the school on August 30, 2002, according to which the employment term started on September 1, 2002 and ended when Qin reached the retirement age.

"According to the retirement process, the school should first talk to me about it, then ask me to fill in the necessary forms to get a pension and finally ask me to sign a confirmation letter," Qin said in court.

"But the school skipped all the procedures and kept me in the dark," Qin said.

The school said it had sent letters regarding her retirement in June and August, but the letters were not returned. Qin told the court she never received the letters.

"In some cases, women in key positions can postpone their retirement age to 55. But that doesn't suit everyone," the defendant's lawyer said.

During the past five years, Qin had tried to get her job back at the school but failed. Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court did not announce a verdict yesterday.


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