Without Critical Allowance, Senior Doctors’ Pay Below Juniors

A Grade UD41 houseman hired in October 2019 would earn almost RM4,000, but a doctor hired next year onwards will earn about RM3,300 at the end of their housemanship.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — The government’s decision to scrap the monthly RM750 critical allowance for new doctors in the civil service will see seniors earning lesser than juniors, a doctors’ group claimed.

Malaysian Medics International (MMI), a group of Malaysian doctors and medical students from around the world, referred to Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Public Service Commission data that showed a Grade UD41 house officer hired in October this year would earn a net RM3,965.55 monthly (after their mandatory deductions for retirement), higher than a more senior medical officer making monthly RM3,256.85 in 2022 at the end of housemanship after entering service in 2020.

The RM3,965.55 net pay of a Grade UD41 houseman hired in October entails a basic salary of RM2,947, public service remuneration of RM300, the Critical Service Incentive Payment (BIPK) critical allowance of RM750, and a flexi allowance of RM600, which brings the total monthly income to RM4,597 (before contributions to EPF, Social Security Organisation (Socso), and the Employment Insurance System (EIS) are deducted).

However, a new doctor that would be hired from January 1, 2020 onwards, with the same monthly salary, would earn RM750 lesser (RM3,382.95), following the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration’s controversial decision to scrap the BIPK for government workers across 33 Critical Service schemes. Only current civil servants in those schemes will continue receiving the BIPK.

This figure would then reduce by RM600 once the doctors finish their housemanship in 2022 and lose their flexi allowance. Add the yearly increment of RM450 to this, and their monthly net salary would still only be RM3,256.85, not including on-call allowances, which is significantly less than what a new doctor would earn at the start of their service.

Picture from the Malaysian Medics International (MMI).

The government has come under fire from health care professional groups and the public now that the RM750 monthly BIPK for new medical officers, pharmacy officers, dental officers, as well as lecturers in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, and up to 15 per cent of the monthly basic salary for nurses, will be scrapped. For other professionals in the civil service affected, including engineers, the figure ranges between 5 and 10 per cent of their monthly basic salary.

Introduced in 1992, the BIPK aimed to attract candidates to certain government jobs at a time of insufficient human resources in certain sectors. However, the Public Service Department (JPA) said last week that the latest review of the BIPK this year found that all 33 service schemes no longer fulfills the criteria of a low offer rate and difficulty in filling vacancies, adding that the BIPK is estimated to cost the government RM1.05 billion next year.

MMI, in a statement on Tuesday, said Malaysia produces close to 6,000 medical graduates each year, all of whom will be affected by this change. This is limited to only the medical profession.

“We understand that the critical allowance was never a permanent remuneration and the employer (government) has all the rights to withhold it. However, this situation is neither favourable nor ideal from the recipients’ perspective. Thus, we urge the government to kindly consider reinstating back the critical allowance.

“Another suggestion would be for the government to consider increasing the basic salary for doctors in contract post,” it said, adding that doctors are also regular people with basic wants and needs who need money to survive.

Several ministers — Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah — seemed to have been caught by surprise over the decision, demanding an explanation from JPA. JPA has since stated that the decision to cancel the critical allowance was made in this year’s first Special Cabinet Committee Meeting on Public Service Reforms chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dzulkefly has since said that he has asked his deputy, Dr Lee Boon Chye, Health Ministry secretary-general Dr Chen Chaw Min, and Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to convene an immediate meeting with JPA to discuss the cancellation of the critical allowance.

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