Women welcome early retirement ruling

Emirati women have welcomed a ruling allowing female public sector staff to retire after 15 years, with more than half of their pensions, because it will benefit “families, mothers and children”.

SHARJAH // Emirati women have welcomed a ruling allowing female public sector staff to retire after 15 years, with more than half of their pensions, because it will benefit “families, mothers and children”.

Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, directed the human resources department of the emirate’s government to assist any female employee wishing to retire upon completing 15 years’ service.

However, women will only be allowed to take early retirement based on their circumstances and with an explanation of the reasons for finishing work, said Tareq bin Khadem, a member of Sharjah Executive Council and chairman of the Human Resources Department.

“According to the decision, any married or unmarried working woman of any age who has completed 15 years in service is eligible to receive 60 per cent of her salary or Dh10,000 [minimum wage] whichever is higher,” Mr bin Khadem told Wam, the state news agency.

Fawzia Saleh, who runs Al Amal nursery, Sharjah, said she hoped early retirement would be applied across the emirates.

“Early retirement for women will restore balance in the family,” she said. “It will give the mother more time to focus on raising her children and taking proper care of the family as a whole.”

G A, who works in human resources, said: “I have been working for 22 years, I have three children; it would have been great if the early retirement was available a few years back.”

“I missed many activities when they were in school, like plays they took part in and graduations. Many times my kids would fall sick and I couldn’t take a day off work to take care of them.”

The directive is one of several rulings passed by Sheikh Sultan in recent years to aid women in the workforce, such as increasing maternity leave from 60 to 90 days and allowing female employees to add this time to their annual leave and unpaid leave allowance, making a total of 120 days.

“The directive by Sheikh Sultan is most welcome,” said Amenah Shamal, who works in a care and maternity centre. “This came after years of publicly requesting it.”

Farah Ajmani said women would have different reasons for taking early retirement, but being able to take care of elderly parents as well as young children would be the most popular reasons.

“I still have many years ahead of me to decide if I want to retire early,” said the 27-year-old public relations coordinator. “It’s good to have a choice. By the time I am eligible for early retirement, my parents will be really old and will need someone to be by their side. I want to be there for them when they need help the most.”

However, some said they were against the idea of early retirement because many women could leave the workforce.

M A, a health department executive, said: “Imagine a woman reaching early retirement when she is 37; she is still capable of working for 10 to 15 more years. It would be a loss for the workforce.”

T S, 32, a government employee, said: “I see that there is a good and a bad side to this.

“On the one hand, some women might be lazy and want to earn a salary without the hassle of work. On the other hand it will provide more opportunities for new graduates to join the workforce.”

Emirati men also had mixed feelings. “In theory, it’s an amazing thing for the married woman,” said Y A, whose wife works. “However, with the increasing financial burdens on me, I need my wife to help out with the household income to be able to provide a suitable living for our family.”

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Published: December 13, 2014 04:00 AM

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