The National Wage Index (NWI) was launched Tuesday to serve as a guideline to measure changes in wages and salaries of workers in Malaysia’s labour market. The index, which is the first in the country, is one of the 11 labour market consolidation initiatives under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) in the priority areas of increasing productivity, enhancing job creation and raising the salary structure.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran told reporters after the launch, that employers could use it as a guide for setting pay levels for salary adjustments and as input to their human resource policies. “Employees and job seekers could benchmark changes in their wages to broader labour market trend and to assess their wage increase or changes over their career paths,” he said.

As a policymaker, Kulasegaran said the government could use the NWI to monitor salary adjustments, as input for fixing the salary and to revise the minimum wage and for policy considerations.

The NWI was developed by the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (Ilmia) based on quarterly surveys on payroll information and adjustments between Sept 2016 until June 2018. The minister said the key results of the survey, among others showed that the basic wage grew by 8.2% over the eight quarters. He said the ministry would publish the NWI on a quarterly basis and the next release would be in the second quarter of 2019.

Kulasegaran also said that the government would focus on increasing the participation of women, retirees above 60 years of age and disabled persons as the prospective workers in the labour force. “We should not allow the talents and experience of older workers to go to waste as they still have much to contribute to economic growth,” he said, adding that the government would study Singapore’s model to allow retirees to work again.