I think the purpose of the proposed 2% EPF contribution for housewives is merely the government making a statement that it recognises the important roles played by housewives.
To demonstrate the same, the government thought that it is a good policy to compel the husbands to share some of their EPF savings with their wives. It is a laudable policy but that's all it is.
The purpose is not to provide a safety net or to secure the wife financially upon the husband's retirement. That obviously cannot be achieved with just a 2% EPF contribution (plus a RM50 top-up by the government). And you cannot put a monetary value on the work done by housewives and compare it with the 2% EPF contribution. That would be totally unfair.
As long as everyone is clear that the purpose of this 2% EPF contribution is only to recognise the role played by the housewives and nothing more than that, then the expectation will not be so high and it would not be put down as mere “tokenism”.
The idea of the 2% EPF contribution for housewives appears to be a good idea but the implementation of it is already facing legal difficulties. Apparently, there is a need to legislate new laws to implement the same.
If it is legally possible, the sharing of the EPF savings by the husbands should not require any further legislation.
I wonder, therefore, if just by segregating a portion of the money already in the husband's EPF account in favour of the wife would be sufficient?
Currently, our EPF account is divided into two accounts. Account No. 1 for savings for retirement. Account No. 2 for buying a house, medical and etc. Why not create an Account No. 3 for the wife?
Account No. 1 (60%). Account No. 2 (30%). Account No. 3 (10%) for the wife upon her or her husband reaching the age of 55 (which cannot be touched by the guy unless it could be proven from the data obtained from the NRIC Department that he is not married). 10% may be an appropriate sum since 2% out of 24% of monthly wages amounts to about 8.33%.
Firstly, as a guy myself, I do not think there should be a distinction between a housewife or wife. I also do not think it is necessary for the government to top up an additional RM50 to the monthly contribution (which will be a burden to the government's coffers and create additional paperwork and make the process more complicated) as long as the husband shares 10% of his total EPF savings with the wife irrespective of whether she is working or not. She is, after all, the wife. The husband can be given the option to share more than 10% of his EPF savings.
The 10% share of the EPF should be retrospective, that is, all of the 10% share currently in the husband's EPF account. Otherwise, if the husband is already above 50 years old and about to retire soon, how much will the contribution be there for the wife upon her or her husband reaching the age of 55 if the contribution is only 2% of the monthly EPF contribution?
It would be best to make the whole process simple, hassle-free with as little paperwork as possible and not complicated.
The wife (whether working or not) should not be required to open an EPF account. To require the same would only create a lot more unnecessary paperwork for the EPF. The husband can be legally compelled to fill a form to declare and provide information about his wife or wives (in the case of Muslims) failing which he can be penalised.
Alternatively, the wife, with a copy of the marriage certificate and her husband's EPF account or NRIC number, could just file a form at the EPF to inform them of her claim to a share of her husband's EPF savings.
This EPF contribution for the wives will not only recognise the roles and contributions of the housewives but also give the opportunity to the husbands to show their love for their wives that upon the husbands' retirement, at least a portion of his savings is committed to be shared with the wives.
I do not think many husbands who love their wives will complain of this idea. In my opinion, it is not too much to ask or compel the husband to share 10% of his EPF savings with his wife, which could only be drawn down after the wife or the husband's retirement age of 55.
We should not look into what is fair and what is not. Otherwise, there will be no end to the argument and we may even end up discussing the possibility of EPF contribution the working wife to husbands who don't work. Or husbands who work but are actively involved in household chores and the caring for his children.
I think we should just treat the whole thing as a nice gesture from a husband to his wife that the government wishes to implement and nothing more than that.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.