GEORGE TOWN: A women’s rights activist has criticised a government decision to exclude domestic helpers from being paid the new RM1,500 minimum wage.
Irene Xavier of Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor said the decision was discriminatory. The exemption showed that the government did not view domestic work as being worthy of a RM1,500 wage.
“Why do they think like this?” she said. “Why does the law exempt domestic workers when the law should be for everybody?”
She said gender-based prejudice might have shaped government thinking, as most domestic helpers were women.
The exemption for domestic servants in the Minimum Wages Order 2022 which took effect on May 1, was similar to that in the Minimum Wages Order 2020, she said.
She said domestic workers were still not entitled to such rights as overtime pay, rest days and limits on working hours.
Xavier also said that it is easy for the government to exempt domestic workers in the country from any minimum wage legislation since they are not under a union and do not organise strikes.
Economist Firdaos Rosli of MARC Ratings said the exemption for domestic workers created an avenue for employers to suppress wages unfairly.
He said there should be one minimum wage that catered to everyone and the National Wages Consultative Council should not maintain the exemption when the RM1,500 minimum rate undergoes a review.