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We take a break from the ‘Story of a Pharma Salesperson’ and move on to other topics. We shall return to it again later.
Pakistan, like several other countries, has fixed 60 years of age for retirement of government employees, other than armed forces who have a rank-based mechanism. In some countries, women and men have different retirement ages. For example, Vietnam has 60 years for men and 55 years for women as the retirement age. Government employees are eligible for pension after retirement; private employees may also get EOBI pension. Government policies are also changing as we shall see later.
The world has moved on. In more developed countries such as US and UK, retirement age is 65. UK has also announced that there will be no retirement age for teaching faculty; they can work for as long as they can, and as long as someone is willing to hire them.
Starting from the Musharraf era, Pakistan government initiated several steps in this area. Many jobs were shifted to fixed-duration contractual plan rather than indefinite regular employment. The salaries were revised upwards and the contract did not provide for any kind of retirement benefit. Another move was to introduce Tenure Track System in the educational institutions. TTS offered higher salaries and split the career into fixed-duration tenures. It was a middle of the road arrangement which offered continuity of job but based on renewal after every three years or so. Teachers, who had already been working for several years, were offered to opt for TTS. TTS did not have provision for retirement benefits. Basically, it offered to get paid today what would have been paid after retirement.
There are two points that I shall take up in this regard. One, what has actually changed demographically and how does it affect retirement age? Two, what should be done about the retirement age?
Changes in health status and longevity have been observed all over the world.
Life expectancy has increased all over the world, including Pakistan. People are living to seventies and eighties. Occasionally, we see some going into nineties also. Secondly, health status has also gotten better. People in seventies are still particularly quite healthy and robust. It is not just Joe Biden becoming US President at 77; our own leaders are also in the same league. The point is that working beyond 60 years is possible and acceptable. In most private organizations, there is no concept of retirement. People keep working for as long as they can.
The larger size and more formal private companies observe the policy of retirement at 60. The self-employed people have no retirement and work till they can.
Retirement at a certain point is necessary for individual and community reasons. For individuals, there should be a change of track because they cannot work with the same energy throughout the years. For community, retirement of older people makes the way for younger people to take charge and must be done. Change of leadership has many benefits. New ideas come in, older ideas are dropped, and the organization remains current. After a certain age, older people stop adapting changes and prefer to stick to the older ways they had learnt during their younger days.
The summary of the situation is like this.
Older people have a lot of knowledge, experience and wisdom which is at its prime most when they retire at 60. Most of it goes waste because there is no formal way of handing over or transferring it to successors. Younger people must get the opportunity to take charge at an age where they have several years to lead. After all, it is not kingship where every new king becomes a king when he is late seventies. Organizations need new talent, new ideas and new energy from within every now and then.
And here is the suggestion to make the most of this situation.
Retirement age should stay at 60 for Pakistan. Majority of our population is young, and it should get opportunities to grow and lead. Older people should be engaged in a format different from regular employment and processes should be designed to gather and transfer the wealth of knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of the organization.
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