Retirements spike due to uncertainty

More public and private sector workers are considering an early exit over fears of regulatory changes By Christina Kopsini

Thousands of public and private sector employees in Greece are considering the option of retirement due to fears that the as yet still favorable regulations in the country’s social security system could be abolished depending on the result of this month’s elections and the political balance that will emerge.

The anxiety that employees are experiencing has been obvious in the last month at virtually all public services, among them tax offices, municipal authorities and education, due to uncertainties in the pensions system.

Recent statements by the labor and social security minister aimed at allaying fears have gone some way toward containing the rise in staff departures.

Speaking on Skai TV, Yiannis Vroutsis dispelled rumors about an increase in the retirement age and tried to appease worried workers who are on the verge of fulfilling criteria for retiring.

While insecurity is soaring in the public sector, especially for those approaching retirement and the mothers of young children, in the private sector the waiting time for the issue of pensions by the Social Security Foundation (IKA) has grown longer than ever, with central IKA offices finding it impossible to serve the huge numbers of workers seeking clarifications, while there are also concerns regarding auxiliary pensions.

Retirement applications in the private sector have grown due to fears that the retirement age will be extended and that pensions will be reduced from January 1, 2015.

At the same time the incentives for people to work beyond the retirement age have virtually been eliminated, as the chances of an increase in the size of pensions are next to zero for those who do choose to stay on, detering workers from taking the risk.

According to the latest data from the ministry, the number of people receiving pensions related to age, disability or death from IKA has grown by 17 percent in the last six months, while expenditure has increased by 24 percent. In April IKA issued 206,436 more pensions than in October and spent 209.3 million more on pensions than six months earlier.