The labour ministry is set to submit a proposal to grant unemployment benefits to people aged 63 and older who have not yet applied for pension, the House labour committee said on Tuesday.

To date, workers over 63 are not entitled to unemployment benefits in case they lose their jobs, committee chairman Andreas Kafkalias said and called on the competent ministry to submit a relevant proposal before the summer holidays.

This particular age group of workers, he said, is discriminated against since they must continue paying their contributions to the Social Security Fund, but are deprived of the right to unemployment benefit.

The chairman said this is a blatant injustice, because workers who decide to retire at the age of 63, are penalised with a 12 per cent cut in their pension, while if they continue to work, they are deprived of a basic employment right.

To resolve this issue, the government will submit a specific proposal before the end of June, it emerged during the session.

However, the Director of Social Security Services Evangelia Georgiadou expressed “very serious reservations” about the regulation of the issue and asked for time to inform the labour minister.

She explained that safeguards are needed to be established unless, “many people will consider unemployment benefit to be an inalienable right and will claim it, thus disrupting the sustainability of the Social Security Fund.”

Georgiadou also recalled that a process of review and reform of the pension system is underway, therefore any piecemeal amendment of issues that may affect the actuarial adjustment should be avoided.

Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou agreed that there is a need to introduce safeguards to ensure its sustainability but added that a comprehensive position on the issue should be put before the committee very soon.

For his part, Akel MP Christos Christofias said the left-wing party knows very well that for people to be able to enjoy the benefits they are entitled to during their work, there must be a fund that stands on its own feet and can meet these needs.

But he clarified that “this does not mean that we should turn a blind eye where there are injustices.”