FINLAND - The average retirement age for employees would increase by a year if “effective occupational health care schemes” are provided at all workplaces, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has claimed.

Outlining its proposals for extending working lives in response to the debate on increasing retirement ages, Lauri Lyly, president of the SAK, said: ” We have to make sure that people can cope with their work at every stage of their working careers. The objective is for workers to reach retirement age in a fit and healthy condition.”

The union revealed its proposed “age programme” aims to prolong working careers while recognising the needs of older employees through initiatives such as “seniority leave, the ability to work part-time and other flexible working arrangements.

However, it warned delaying the retirement age will require measures “to be taken throughout the working career”, and called for a statutory guarantee of preventative occupational health care for all employees.

The SAK estimated that “the average age at which employees retire in Finland would increase by a year if effective occupational health care was provided at all workplaces”, and said although this is already a legal requirement it warned about 20% of the total workforce are not covered by these schemes.

Trade unions criticised the government’s announcement in February to raise the minimum retiring age from 63 to 65 without sufficient consultation, and following negotiations an accord was signed in March 2009 which agreed by 2025 the average projected retiring age of people over 25 should increase by three years. (See earlier IPE article: Union anger over Finnish retirement increase)

The proposals put forward by SAK on extending working lives are now likely to feed into the research by two working groups that are scheduled to report on “concrete proposals for delaying the age of retirement” by the end of 2009.

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