Israel Looking to Wean Elderly Workers Into Retirement

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Older government workers in Israel may no longer face retirement as a sudden transition from full-time to no-time.

Looking to move away from a one-size-fits-all retirement program for elderly employees, the Finance Ministry is planning to introduce a pilot program that will allow seniors to gradually stop working while keeping their rights intact.

The plan, which follows a proposal from Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, will be launched in two or three months and studied for a period of two to three years. The new program will enable older government employees to start working half-time or in other part-time arrangements, without any change to the structure of their pension and with the ability to work beyond the age of 67, which is the current retirement age in Israel.

If the pilot succeeds, employees will be able to switch from a full-time to a part-time position, for example, to start working half-time at the age of 61, and to work until age 73.

Gradual retirement already exists in the business sector and in other professions such as teaching. It is believed that it could benefit workers in other professions, including doctors, nurses, judges and attorneys.

As far as is known, the program has no parallel in any other developed countries. Its goal is to enable older workers to devote more time to family and leisure without the sharp and sudden transition to full retirement that can cause emotional and health issues. The workers will benefit from reduced pressure and a lighter workload, and employers will benefit from happier and more productive employees.

Should the pilot succeed, gradual retirement will be voluntary and up to the worker. The treasury has emphasized that its plan is unrelated to recent proposals to raise the pension age in Israel, and also to employees' demands that they not be forced to retire at age 67.

The government is looking for a way to make the transition to long, empty days easier for retiring workers.Credit: Courtesy

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