Retirees and retirement life

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Retirement is a time when an employee has to withdraw from his occupation in accordance with the regulations prevailing in his country. The age for retirement varies from one country to another.

In Saudi Arabia, the retirement age is 60 in accordance with the Hijri calendar. There are countries that set retirement at 62 and others where it is 65 or more. In these countries, the age is calculated in accordance with the Gregorian calendar and not on the basis of the Hijri calendar.

As far as I know, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that follows the Hijri calendar in this regard. There are demands that the retirement age should be calculated according to the Gregorian calendar. The state has begun to follow the Gregorian calendar in the payment of salaries to government employees so as to keep pace with international and regional practices as well as with the private sector, though it makes the employee lose 11 days of salary in a year.

An employee may request retirement before reaching the age specified for retirement in the country’s laws after he has served 20 years or more, but only on the condition that he receives the approval of the employer. However, after 25 years, he can apply for retirement and obtain the approval as per the regulations and nobody can prevent him from seeking retirement.

It is possible to extend the service of an employee after he reaches the retirement age, but this can only be done after obtaining the necessary approvals and going through some difficult procedures. There are also some employees whose service has been extended after reaching the retirement age but they work for free.

In such cases, the extension of service does not benefit them financially. However, some employees are keen to have the extension for one reason or another and perhaps one of the most important reasons is so that they will not have to face the vacuum that retirement brings to some, especially if they occupy a position where there are several employees under their authority or they are in a prestigious position that brings them benefits at least on moral grounds.

I write these words about retirement and retirees on the occasion of the retirement season that falls in the month of Rajab every year. All state employees who have reached the age of 60 before the beginning of the month of Rajab are referred to retirement during this month. The state has set Rajab 1 as the birthday of all employees, who do not have birth certificates since they were born 60 years ago when there was no issuance of birth certificates. The authorities have adopted the month of Rajab as the date for retirement of all employees, except for those who have a birth certificate.

The retirement age of those who have a birth certificate is treated on the basis of that date, but even some of those who have birth certificates are treated like their colleagues who do not have them. They consider retirement with colleagues as a mercy and entertainment.

These colleagues may think about a project that will benefit them financially in the future and occupy the vacuum caused by retirement in their lives. I know colleagues who have taken advantage of retirement to have better prospects in life. They no longer have the restrictions caused by their job, when they had no time to think about anything other than their work and its responsibilities. Retirement has given them sufficient free time to think about small projects that generate good sums of money, enabling them to take advantage of the free time of those who have retired from service.

Those pensioners, who have no interest in spending their time outside their home, are forced to stay inside their house. This can develop negativity and such people can become burdensome at home and end up criticizing anything and everything. Nothing will make them energetic and enthusiastic and they begin to interfere in affairs that are of no concern to them. This may eventually cause domestic situations that trigger the ire of the housewife and entangle the retiree in controversies with her and other family members.

Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at algham@hotmail.com


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