income+ Focus Malaysia (March 9-15, 2019) by Tan Jee Yee
- We may need to work after our retirement age. Thankfully, the gig economy means we’re able to find more work opportunities
- Some people may want to work after retirement age, and there are now growing opportunities for side-jobs
- There are platforms that specifically lists jobs for seniors and retirees
For some people, working after retirement is a necessity. For Edward Wong Ing How, it was because of boredom. The 62-year-old spoke to FocusM after turning off his Grab application for the afternoon. “I’ll turn it back on in the evening, and stop during dinnertime. Usually the missus gets angry if I skip dinner in order to drive,” he says with a chuckle. Wong has been a ride-hailing driver for almost a year now – an endeavour he undertook because he found retirement to be quite boring. “I like that I have a lot of time, but sometimes you have too much time, you know? I might as well earn some money,” he says.
However, he may not be a ride-hailing driver soon. With the new ride-hailing regulations in place, Wong isn’t keen on getting a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence, let alone take the necessary exams. Not that this will stop him from seeking work. The former telecommunications maintenance officer has already begun scouting for potential part-time work in various places. “I could be a delivery guy, if I want to. Maybe an admin assistant, from this job offer I found online,” he says. “I think we’re at a time where there are more work opportunities for retirees, if we only know where to look.”
The post-retirement conundrum
Malaysia is becoming an aging nation, and with it comes a list of concerns. A primary worry would be whether or not we could afford retirement. According to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), more than 68% of its members aged 54 had less than RM50,000 in EPF savings. Another EPF survey conducted in 2017 found that over 90% of its respondents across big cities and rural areas do not have enough savings to retire comfortably. It’s a matter of financial planning and policies, though for those who are heading into their retirement with insufficient savings, the prospects of working past the age of 60 may be a reality.
Some may also be considering working as a viable way to spend their retirement. It may allow us to live longer, for one – a 2016 study by the Oregon State University in the United States found that working past age 65 can add years to one’s life, while retiring early could put one at risk of dying younger. A large study conducted in France on nearly half a million self-employed workers, released in 2014, found that delaying retirement means people may be at a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking on the gig economy
At the very least, we can take what Wong said as an assurance. It’s hard to say that work opportunities for retirees have increased exponentially, but we are living at a time when options for side-jobs are growing, thanks to the so-called “gig economy”. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations seek out independent workers for short-term engagements instead of long-term employment. We can already see the opportunities this gig economy has for retirees – ride-hailing services like Grab do not discriminate age, with a medical check-up being one requirement for drivers above 50. Working retirees like Wong are already eyeing other gig economy options, like being a delivery person with GrabFood or HonestBee. “They require that you have a motorcycle licence, which I do. I can see myself doing that, if I’m not being a ride-hailing driver,” he says.
Searching at the right places
A more prevalent gig economy also means more opportunities for part-time work with other organisations. Former administrative executive Annie Teoh Sue Huan has been able to continue with her career after retiring four years ago, albeit on a part-time basis. She is currently working as an administrator for a small company in Kota Damansara, which is close to her home. The 64-year old only needs to come in for a few hours a day and work has been relatively simpler compared to when she was a full-timer. “It’s like a stripped-down version of my original work. I get paid less but I do enjoy the slower pace and the free time I get before and after work,” she says.
What to take from Teoh is not just the job she managed to find, but where she found it. A year ago, Teoh took to searching for positions on job platforms that are catered specifically to seniors. They included Hire.Seniors, a website that does just that, as well as JobStreet, which also posts jobs that welcome retirees. “I think online platforms that gather these jobs in one place really makes searching a lot easier. Much better than poring through newspaper classifieds!” Teoh says.
While Teoh did go through Hire.Seniors and JobStreet, she found her side-job through PartTimePost, a website that lists part-time and freelance jobs. “I wasn’t sure if they would hire a retiree but it turned out I was exactly what they were looking for,” she explains.
If one takes time to go through each job platform, they may also find job opportunities that allow them to work from home. Linda Chan Hue May, 58, serves as an example. She was working as a virtual assistant after she was retrenched. Being a virtual assistant had allowed chan to work at home, which offers her the flexibility she needs now that she’s essentially retired. Chan is no longer a virtual assistant now, but has since started working as a freelance typist and transcriber, taking in jobs from various regular clients that she has accrued over the past year or so. “I needed more flexibility now that I have to also ferry my grandchildren to school,” she says. Her daughter-in-law had helped seek out remote working opportunities before landing on a few offers in a Facebook group.
This technically makes Chan a freelancer, a title she accepts with glee. “I feel like I’m part of the young crowd now.” Chan believes that with the right skill and mindset, retirees can try being freelancers themselves. “I’m sure we have more to offer to the workforce. We just need to put ourselves out there. Hopefully, there’ll be platforms that allow retirees to post their services as well,” she says.
[Extracted from Focus Malaysia Printed on 9th March 2019, Page 28]