The Cayman Islands government now has 261 workers over age 60 in its ranks, following a change to the public sector’s retirement age last year.

The majority of those individuals, 216, are between ages 60 and 64.

Under the previous employment rules, most would have been forced to retire at age 60.

The vast majority of those older workers are still paying into their civil service retirement funds, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said, extolling the success of extending government’s mandatory retirement age.

“Over 5,000 public servants [now] have greater flexibility in their careers and can save longer for retirement,” Mr. Manderson said.

The government is also employing another 45 individuals who are age 65 or above.

Mr. Manderson said, in some cases, the civil service has been flexible where those older workers remained healthy and willing to serve.

The number of government employees age 60 and above is not large compared with the total number of government workers, which stood at more than 5,900 people last year, including those employed with government’s companies and statutory authorities.

However, there is a substantive reason Mr. Manderson and senior civil service managers want older workers to remain in the government service if they can, and it’s not solely because of their experience and expertise.

If the older government employees do stay longer, it would help reduce the unfunded financial liability in the government’s Public Service Pension fund, which has been estimated recently at close to $300 million over a rolling 20-year period.

Portfolio of the Civil Service Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon said last November that the change in the retirement age to 65 was expected to shave about $30 million off that future liability.

During a presentation in 2016 to a professional development conference on Grand Cayman, Ms. McField-Nixon noted that some 1,100 civil service workers between ages 50 and 59 could still take early retirement.

There were concerns at the time that mass retirements of hundreds of workers could hit the civil service all at once.

“We’re encouraging them to stay [until 65], and we’ve found that more and more, that the baby boomers [generation born after World War II] are staying with us,” she said.

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