Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Consider tax on men to pay back women - Lecturer suggests cess on males to cover time females spend on care duties

Published:Sunday | December 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

The idea of taxing men to compensate women for 'care work' surfaced last Thursday, along with a range of other recommendations, during a forum hosted by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI).

During the forum, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston under the theme, 'Supporting Inclusive and Participatory Governance', CAPRI researcher Adwoa Onuora noted that women are disadvantaged as they have to take care of children, the sick and the elderly, without compensation.

At the same time, Onuora pointed out that the majority of women miss out on having productive lives and receiving social benefits because they are involved in providing care work, which is not billable.

"The bulk of unpaid care work is currently being undertaken by low-income women in the domestic or private sphere. Females who earn less than $50,000 spend 57 minutes per day on unpaid care work, and those who earn $50,000 to $100,000 spend about 48 minutes per day."

According to her, the amount of time women spend doing unpaid care work is far greater than the time spent by men in every category of income.


Mothers left behind


Working mothers, it has also been claimed, are being left behind as well because they, too, spend much time trying to juggle caring for children and the demands of their jobs.

But, recognising the stifling effect on the women and weighing the importance of care work to the development of the country, several recommendations to enact legislation to force men to take paternity leave and to pay taxes to compensate women for care work were put forward.

"The pension needs to be reformed to minimise the effect of the wage penalty ... because women are spending so much time doing unpaid care work. It goes without saying that they don't have bankable hours to contribute to their pension," Onuora argued.


Creative solutions


On the controversial point of slapping a tax on men, Dr Alrick Campbell, economics lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, contended that creative ways were needed to pay for work which is unpaid for.

"If it is the case, and the evidence shows, that women spend at least four more hours (per month) at care duties than men, it is probably the case where we might need to think about taxing men - taxing the salaries of men - to compensate women for the work they are doing ...," Campbell jested to much applause from the women who attended the forum.

He noted that the care economy should be taken very seriously as it's projected to be a leading force in most countries within the next few years.

He mentioned that the status quo in Jamaica actually benefits the Government, pointing specifically to the health-care system.

"The benefits of the care work are immense in terms of the savings that accrue to the Government. Just imagine if we didn't have so many women taking care of sick persons and we allow these persons to languish in the public system. Just imagine the cost the Government would incur in that process," Campbell argued.