By Elesha George
The government has passed a Bill that will increase the pensionable age of retirement for police officers.
The move will increase the mandatory age of retirement from 50 and 55 to 65, based on the periodical increase outlined by the Social Security Scheme that was implemented on January 1st 2019 for all other public sector workers.
Section 68 of the Police Act, which states that “every Inspector, subordinate police officer the Force and constable shall retire from the Force on attaining the age of fifty-five years. (2) Every Inspector, subordinate police officer or constable may be required or permitted to retire from the Force- (a) on attaining the age of fifty years; or (b) after he has served in the Force for twenty years”, will be repealed once the Bill passes Senate.
The Bill maintains existing special retirement options for police officers. Police officers will still be able to retire after 20 years in the force and after 55 years of age; however, persons who retire before the pensionable age and who want to start receiving their pensions will receive prorated benefits.
For example, an officer who chooses to retire at the age 60 will have his/her pension reduced by ½ percent for each month between the time the pension starts and the pensionable age at that time of benefits now that the age of retirement is at 62.
Earlier this year, a number of police officers protested the increase explaining that it would stunt upward mobility for younger officers and that an officer over the age of 60 often time cannot perform adequately in the field.
However, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the government had to be consistent with the law, telling parliamentarians “we cannot have one set of laws for one set of public servants and another for another set”.
An independent professional board will be established to review the applications of officers who choose to retire early. That board will also assess the capacity of officers who are over age 60 to remain on the force.
The Police (Amendment) Bill 2020 passed in the Lower House without debate on Tuesday.
Observer was unable to reach the chairman of the Police welfare Association for comment before publication of this article.