Civil servants of Flemish administration can continue in service after the age of 65
Civil servants of the Flemish administration will be allowed to continue in service even if they are older than 65 years of age in future now that the government of Flanders has revised its staff statute. As yet this will not apply to civil servants employed by the federal government. Federal civil servants will only be allowed to extend their period of service once, and only for a period of six months, or until the age of 65 and a half. Moreover this will only apply if their extension is required on the demand of the civil service itself, which is often only the case for higher officials. The federated states are compelled to follow federal government regulations in principle, but the current state reform will gradually change this arrangement. Flemish Minister for Public Governance Geert Bougeois N-VA feels the time is already ripe to deviate from this regulation and other parties within the government of Flanders share his judgment. He proposes a limit of 66.5 years, which translates as three additional 6-month periods. He makes it quite clear that this would only serve as temporary transitional step and that in future the limit will be raised further or even disappear. The recent federal coalition agreement makes provision for a similar adjustment, saying: “Working within the government sector until after age 65 will be permitted on condition that the employer agrees.” According to Minister Bourgeois, Flemish civil servants are already inclined to work longer, with the retirement age increasing from 60.8 to 61.6 during the past five years. This trend has not been noticed in any other section of public services. In fact, their number of employees who continue to work after the age of 65 continues to drop. But not all civil servants employed by federal services follow this trend and the social security department, where employees enjoy much more autonomy, record a spectacular increase in the retirement age. Employees within the private sector are not forced to retire at the age of 65, but are often discouraged to continue by various regulations. They do not benefit from additional pension income. It seems as if the coalition agreement would like to keep it at that. Private sector employees therefore have no real incentive to continue working until after the age of 65 and would rather earn additional income elsewhere. But this is not encouraged either. If they earn above a certain limit, they stand to lose their pension or a portion thereof. This is set to become more lenient in the coalition agreement, however. Almost all Flemish parties call for unlimited additional earnings after retirement. This could become a reality as from 2013, but will only apply to employees aged 65 who have been in service for at least 42 years.