German Economy Minister calls for voluntary increase in retirement age

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German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the Federal Republic should move away from the fixed retirement age and allow people to work flexibly for longer, if they so wish. This decision could help solve the persistent shortage of skilled workers in Germany.

German minister calls for flexible retirement age

While some of us just can’t wait for retirement, for others it’s a day we dread. The latter group will be delighted to learn that German Economics Minister Robert Habeck has floated the idea of ​​allowing people to voluntarily retire later in life, to help cushion the shortage of skilled workers in Germany.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Habeck said people “should be able to work flexibly for longer. This would be a double benefit: if you wish, you can contribute your knowledge, skills and experience for a longer period. And we could counter the shortage of skilled labour. He said that instead of a fixed retirement age, Germany should consider having a flexible “retirement window” between around 65 and 70.

According to a document drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a framework will be created to allow employees to work at least until the legal retirement age and, if they wish, voluntarily beyond – by making retirement more flexible. and giving financial incentives to those who decide to work longer.

Working beyond retirement is already possible, but few accept the offer

In principle, such a framework has already existed since 2017 with the government’s so-called flexi-pension scheme. Currently, someone who remains in employment beyond the legal retirement age can collect 0.5% additional pension benefits for each month worked, making it a fairly lucrative scheme.

However, few people accept the offer. Indeed, data from the Federal Employment Agency in 2021 show that around 80% of working pensioners actually hold mini-jobs (earning a salary of less than 450 euros per month which is not subject to social security).

According to Anja Piel, board member of the German Confederation of Trade Unions, the problem is not the pension law but the German labor market, which she described as “walled off” for older employees, with few jobs available. She called on Habeck to “make strict demands on employers so that older employees can still be hired and can work under conditions until retirement.”

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