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Women’s Early Retirement Bill Seen on Right Track

If approved by Parliament and the Guardian Council, the bill will allow women to retire after 25 years with no age limit
An estimated 950,000 women are employed in state organizations across the country.An estimated 950,000 women are employed in state organizations across the country.

Massoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for women and family affairs, said at the weekend that the bill reducing the mandatory working years for women’s retirement from 30 to 25 years has been approved by the Supreme Administrative Council.  

If approved by Parliament and the Guardian Council, the bill will allow women to retire after 25 years with no age limit. Currently, the retirement law allows workers to retire with at least 30 years of insurance premium payment or upon completing the age of 60 for men and 55 for women.

Following the statement by Ebtekar, head of the Parliament’s Joint Commission, Hamidreza Haji-Babaei on Sunday said there is “no obstacle for passage of the bill in the Parliament,” Mehr News Agency reported.

The joint commission is a body responsible for reviewing the budget bill as well as the five-year economic, social and cultural development plans proposed by the government.

According to Haji-Babaei, an estimated 950,000 women are employed in state organizations across the country. “Of this number, around 270,000 have working experience of less than 20 years and thus are not eligible for early retirement.”

“Given the fact that the (new) law will include several criteria (for example the applicants will receive only two-third of their final salary as pension), we estimate that the number of women to actually apply for early retirement under the scheme will barely reach 10,000,” he added.

He went on to say that if the bill becomes law it will pave the way for hiring a larger number of young people as the government struggles to create job opportunities for millions of unemployed youth.

The new proposal comes as a correction to an earlier bill passed by the Parliament in January 2017 which eased the condition for retirement to 20 years of verified working experience in women. The bill was rejected by the Guardian Council in February 2017 and returned to Parliament for review on the grounds that it imposes a heavy financial burden on insurance companies, among others.  

  Added Burden

Hojjatollah Mirzaei, deputy minister of cooperatives, labor and social welfare, had noted that implementing the proposal would impose spending  close to 50 trillion rials (approximately $1.3 billion) on the Civil Servants Pension Fund and 300 trillion rials ($7.78 billion) on the Social Security Organization.  The previous bill mandated all government institutions, organizations and bodies as well as non-government organizations to allow women to retire after 20 years of insurance premium contribution, with no age bar. The optional early retirement for women would mean that they receive only two-third of their full pension amount.

A major difference between the previous and the new bill is that the latter  enables women to retire after reaching 55 years of age or 25 years of insurance payment, five years sooner than men, but still receive full pension.

But the new bill, though still in preliminary stages, already has opponents. A woman activist, Zohreh Arzani, says if approved, the new bill would tempt companies and organizations to prefer men over female employees as they are concerned about women’s longevity in the job.

In an interview with Persian-language newspaper Ta’adol, she said the government should instead create the conditions for women that encourage them to remain in the job. These include child care facilities for working women and exercise schemes that help reduce the physical strain of workers.

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