Salary deductions to ‘pay’ homemakers: Should they be voluntary or compulsory?

18 May 2023 07:30am
Nancy Shukri
Nancy Shukri

SHAH ALAM - Imagine the life of a househusband or housewife who manage their homes from cooking meals, cleaning to taking care of children and managing household finances.

Yet, they may not be paid as some say they are getting free meals and shelter.

Recently, Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, at the Unity Government National Convention suggested that family heads consider implementing a salary deduction system to provide financial compensation to family members who take on the responsibility of managing the household.

However, should it be voluntary or compulsory?

Universiti Utara Malaysia economist Dr K Kuperan Viswanathan believes that this should be encouraged voluntarily rather than mandated by legislation.

"How households allocate their income should not be regimented by governments. Paying the other half who manages the home should be determined by the household to foster harmony and wellbeing.

"I strongly support the idea that housewives of househusbands should be compensated for their vital contributions to the household welfare," he told Sinar Daily.

Kuperan further added that the amount and method of setting these compensations should be in the hands of each household.

"It is because they are more knowledgeable about the nature of the job and have a better awareness of their joint obligations on the welfare of their family," he added.

Meanwhile, Senior Research Fellow at the Social Wellbeing Research Centre (SWRC) of Universiti Malaya, Dr Zulkiply Omar said it was a sensible move by the Unity Government for recognising workers in the informal sector and will yield positive impact on the economy.

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"This informal sector plays a significant role in the economy but some are not being rewarded fairly. However, salary deduction from the head of the family requires detailed study, although it sounds sensible.

"This sector is a social contract between the husband and wife," he said.

Zulkiply said that compensation for their role is typically compensated in kind such as free food, accommodation, and essential supplies, rather than cash.

He further said their contribution helps the family save money since they fulfill the role of a babysitter, eliminating the need to hire one to take care of the children.

"Nevertheless, making it compulsory for housewives and househusbands who are not working in the formal sector to have an Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account should be given priority.

"Automatic salary deduction from the head of household is good. This is because they are more vulnerable in their old age, especially if their partner is in the informal sector."

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