EPF, Socso contributions for athletes nothing new for BAM’s shuttlers

The Malaysian government is set to implement contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the Social Security Organisation (Socso) for national athletes, starting next year.

However, one association in the country implemented the contribution scheme for its athletes six years ago.

Michelle Chai had just joined the Badminton Association of Malaysia as its general manager then. And she was surprised to find out that there was no employer-employee contract between the national body and the shuttlers.

“There was only a simple letter to say that one is a BAM player, but no contract. I came from football, where players had contracts with their clubs,” said Chai, who served in the Asian Football Confederation before.

“The moment there’s a contract, there will surely be EPF and Socso contributions. But there were some who said that the players didn’t want the contracts because it would mean deducting their salaries, and having to declare taxes.”

Chai added that BAM had to educate the athletes about the importance of the contributions.

“Actually, what was happening was that everyone was just following the same practice,” she added.

“Everyone was following the same practice. I think what we need to do is to always ask ‘Why’, and why do we keep following past practices.

“For me, it’s weird that such a practice was not in place in the first place. People speak about professionalism. It starts with having a professional relationship between the management and the players. In short, it’s a job.”

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, on Nov 21, told the Dewan Rakyat that the National Sports Council (NSC) was fine-tuning the implementation of EPF and Socso contributions for all national athletes in the country. Yeoh called it a “game-changer” as the athletes’ welfare will be taken care of, beginning January.

Chai, who is now the Akademi Badminton Malaysia administration director, admitted that no other sports association had approached her, or BAM, regarding the EPF and Socso contributions.

“Perhaps, cost is an issue. I must admit that by us doing this, it has cost us 10 per cent more, of what we used to spend. The NSC will also see a rise in their expenditure, too.

“But that increase goes a long way in ensuring the athletes’ welfare and wellbeing are taken care of, while injecting professionalism in Malaysian sports,” Chai added.

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