60 years old? When can you start?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2012, 12:00am


New executive councillor Bernard Chan believes the city's tradition of retaining older staff 'may have something to do with Chinese culture', which favours keeping long-established relationships instead of striking up new ones.

He says this explains why his insurance company, Asia Financial Holdings, is among the few in the sector that employs retired staff under flexible terms.

'Why shouldn't they be retained if they are still healthy, experienced and have expertise?' Chan said. 'They have an excellent working attitude as they cherish the opportunities given by the company.'

The 47-year-old called on the government and universities to take a leading role in resolving the retirement age issue in Hong Kong.

In Chan's company, more than 15 of the 250 staff are over 60 - some are over 70 - and were recruited after their retirement. While most of them are insurance agents, one is a senior manager headhunted from a rival company.

The agents, having flexible working hours, are not on a full-time salary. They are paid a commission for identifying clients and receive a transport allowance.

Chan said he appreciated the older insurance agents as they had already established a vast network of contacts during their career.

But Chan noted that the medical expenses for full-time older staff would be almost double and that they tended to take more sick leave.

'But that's the nature of ageing. I think it's fine if you take into account their contribution,' Chan said.

He said the flexible terms of employment for older staff did not affect the upward mobility of the younger workers in Asia Financial Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed insurer with interests in private hospitals and other medical services.

'Let's not cut off older workers from the world. It's good to keep them busy and to make them feel needed,' he said.

'People aged 60 are still regarded as young.'