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Special early retirement programme for public sector workers

Friday, January 19, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Government is offering a Special Early Retirement Programme (SERP) to eligible public sector workers.

Eligible public sector workers are permanent employees of the Government of Jamaica between the ages of 50 and 59 years except health professionals, security forces, correctional officers and teachers, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance and Public Service.

The SERP operates under specified terms, including:

• It is the employee's choice to apply for the SERP.

• The head of an organisation will decide which applications can be approved.

• Organisations will be able to replace approved SERP participants only up to the value of 15 per cent of the savings generated by the SERP.

• Incentives are built into the SERP.

• Re-employment of persons who retire under the SERP will be restricted.

Applications under SERP must be submitted to the relevant human resource management section of each organisation by February 16, 2018 and applicants are encouraged to submit their applications prior to this date.

Among the incentives included in the SERP is the offer of two weeks' salary for each year of service up to a maximum of one year's salary and payment in lieu of accumulated vacation leave.

The ministry said SERP is designed, as far as possible, to ensure that the process is fair and takes into account both the needs and preferences of the employee as well as the needs of the employer to ensure that the organisation remains sustainable.

The option to apply under the SERP is strictly voluntary and is expected to contribute to reducing the size of the public sector wage bill as a per cent of GDP.

To apply to SERP, in addition to meeting the age criterion, applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. Be permanently employed to the Government of Jamaica;

2. Have ten years' qualifying service with the Government of Jamaica; and

3. Be eligible to retire early as per the rules of the Pensions Act.

The ministry further explained that the SERP is being offered at this point in light of the recently passed Pensions (Public Service) Act 2017 which adjusts the terms under which public sector workers will retire. The new Act, among other things, it said, will gradually increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 years; facilitate mandatory contributions by all pensionable officers towards their pension; and harmonise the legislation governing public sector pensions in a single statute.

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