Social Committee of the Council of Ministers on the effects of lowering the retirement age and proposed amendments to the programme “For Life”

We support families comprehensively, with a view to various generations of the Poles. We want to make it easier to combine the care of children and disabled persons with professional life, so today, at the meeting of the Social Committee of the Council of Ministers we are discussing proposals for new solutions in the governmental programme “For Life” - said Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Chairperson of the Committee.


Premier Beata Szydło.

Retiring is the right, not a duty. By lowering the retirement age to 60 years for women and 65 years for men, we kept our word and brought back the freedom of choice. Everyone decides on their own whether to remain in the labour market. It is now important to analyse the results of this reform – she added.

 

During the meeting, the Social Committee of the Council of Ministers became familiar with the effects of restoring the earlier retirement age. The data on this subject was presented by Stanisław Szwed – Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy and Prof. Gertruda Uścińska – President of the Polish Social Insurance Institution.

In addition, the Social Committee adopted a positive opinion on the objectives of the Council of Ministers’ draft resolution amending the resolution on the programme of comprehensive support for families For Life. The document, presented by the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Family, Krzysztof Michałkiewicz, proposed, inter alia, additional two days off for each working parent of a disabled child and making worktime more flexible for a spouse of a disabled person.

Your pension – your choice – the results of lowering the retirement age

On 1 October 2017, the regulations which restored the retirement age: 60 years for women and 65 years for men, entered into force. This was the return to the state from before the reform in 2012, which introduced a gradual increase in the retirement age to 67 years regardless of gender. The then extension of the retirement age took place against the state of opinion and left no choice to those who wanted to retire since they did not feel up to continuing their work.

In preparing for introducing the amendments, pension advisors informed about the rules of granting pensions and the expected amount of a pension. They also indicated the amount of the forecast benefit should a given person choose to work longer, as the longer is the period of work, the higher is capital in the account and sub-account and the estimated average time of drawing a pension is shorter, which, in consequence, gives a higher amount of a pension. They informed that each year of work after reaching the retirement age would mean the growth of the benefit by about 8%. This is one of the biggest growths in the world.

Nearly 313 thousand persons received their pension thanks to restoring the lowered retirement age in the fourth quarter of 2017. It is 79% of all those who could retire earlier between the beginning of October and the end of December.

The right to retire in the restored retirement age was exercised mainly by those who had previously been professionally inactive. The reform extending the retirement age in 2012 did not take into account the health and professional situation of the elderly. Those persons were doomed to a significant extension of the period of waiting for their pension, without any prospect or possibility of further work. It was them who have largely benefited from the lower retirement age. The vast minority of those who decide to retire are the employed – they prefer to remain in the labour market and continue working.

The expenses of the Social Security Fund (FUS), due to the restoration of the retirement age of 60 years for women and 65 for men in the fourth quarter of 2017 amounted to PLN 1.99 billion, i.e. PLN 210 million below the level expected before the reform was introduced.

The Social Committee discussed the challenge related to pensions lower than minimum pension. The reason for low benefits are, inter alia, short job seniority or employment as part of contracts from which pension contributions are not deducted or their amount is minimum. In this context, the Chairperson of the Committee – Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło recommended the development of solutions that would restrict that phenomenon.   

Further facilities for families and persons with disabilities in the programme For Life

Changes in the programme to support families – For Life are a result of dialogue with disabled persons as well as with families raising disabled children. New solutions have been proposed to facilitate, inter alia, combining professional life with the care of a disabled person.

One of the proposals is to make forms of worktime organisation more flexible. A working person who is a spouse of a disabled person shall be entitled to make use of:

  • individual worktime
  • flexible worktime or
  • intermittent work
  • telework.

On the other hand, the employer may refuse to take such an application into account if this is not possible due to work organisation or the type of work performed by the person concerned. 

Another proposed amendment is to establish additional release from work for the purpose of taking care of a disabled child. For each disabled child, 2 additional days or 16 hours of release from work will be granted to each working parent. The right to remuneration financed by the employer will be maintained. For example, in the case of raising one healthy child and one disabled child, the duration of release from work would be 6 days – 2 days for a healthy child and 2 days for a disabled child for each working parent. In addition, it will be possible to use release from work for the employee raising a disabled child – up to 18 years of age or without age restrictions.

It was proposed that each working parent be able to execute parental powers by making use of:

  • prohibition to make the employee work for more than 8 hours a day (without their consent), if this employee takes care of a child below 4 years of age,
  • prohibition to employ the employee, without their consent, for the purpose of working overtime, at night, in the intermittent work system, and to delegate them outside the permanent workplace when this person raises a child below 4 years of age,
  • reduced worktime in the period during which the employee is entitled to parental leave.

Respite care for parents or guardians of disabled persons will be implemented with support of the gmina self-government.

It is also envisaged to support persons with disabilities who have the greatest difficulties
in entering and functioning in the labour market on their own. It is assumed that the home rehabilitation of disabled children and education of their parents or legal guardians, in their place of residence, will better prepare children for independent living.

The discussion highlighted the supraministerial nature of the programme For Life.