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Working Hours & Days in Malaysia

The standard work week in Malaysia typically consists of 40 hours, spread across Monday to Friday. As the Malaysian workforce continues to evolve and become more diverse, there has been an increasing demand for flexible work arrangements, such as the increasingly popular 4-day work week. The Malaysian government recognizes this trend, and its Public Service Department is actively funding studies into the implementation of such flexible work schedules.

The Malaysian Employment Act governs crucial aspects of the country’s labor laws, including working hours, overtime compensation, and leave provisions. The act prescribes the maximum number of working hours per week, per day and entitles employees to rest and holidays. Employers must adhere to these regulations and ensure compliance with the law to provide favorable working conditions in a diverse work environment.

Customarily, most businesses operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Sometimes, businesses and government agencies are also open until noon on Saturdays. This business culture, coupled with Malaysia’s legal obligations and regulations in the workplace, ensures a balance between employee well-being and productivity.

Key Takeaways

  • The standard work week consists of 40 hours, typically from Monday to Friday
  • Employment Act governs working hours, overtime compensation, and leave provisions
  • Promotion of flexible work arrangements is on the rise in Malaysia

Standard Working Hours and Days

Office Hours

In Malaysia, the standard working hours for office-based employees are typically 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. The normal working hours are often 8 hours per day, with a fixed time schedule such as 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., including a 1-hour lunch break. However, employees can negotiate with their employers for flexible work arrangements, particularly regarding start and end times for their workdays.

Non-Office Hours

Employees in industries with non-traditional office hours, such as manufacturing, retail, or hospitality, may have different work schedules. These employees usually follow the guidelines under the Employment Act 1955, which states that a working day should not exceed 8 working hours and should not be spread across more than 10 hours per day. Additionally, the weekly working hours for these employees have been reduced from 48 to 45 hours per week, with a 30-minute rest period after every 5 consecutive hours of work.

Rest Day

According to Malaysia’s labor laws, employees are entitled to at least 1 rest day per week. This day is typically Sunday for most office-based workers, although it may vary for employees in non-office industries. It is worth noting that the Public Service Department in Malaysia actively funds studies to explore the implementation of a 4-day work week. If adopted, this could potentially change the standard working hours and days for employees in the country.

Employment Laws Governing Working Hours

Malaysia’s employment laws aim to strike a balance between the needs of both employers and employees in the workforce. A primary aspect of these laws is the regulation of working hours and days. Governed by the Employment Act 1955, these rules are applicable to employees in Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan.

Under the Malaysian Employment Act, the maximum weekly working hours have been reduced from 48 hours to 45 hours. This is broken down into a maximum of 8 working hours per day, and the work should not be spread over more than 10 hours per day. To maintain a balanced work schedule, employees are entitled to one day of rest per week.

A vital provision under the Section 60A(1) of the EA is the mandatory entitlement of a 30-minute rest period after five consecutive hours of work. This regulation aims to ensure that employees remain at optimal productivity levels and help prevent work-related stress.

In Malaysia, overtime work is governed by the Employment (Limitation of Overtime Work) Regulations 1980. These regulations stipulate that overtime work must not exceed 104 hours per month, which averages to approximately four hours per day. Overtime compensation is a legal entitlement only for EA employees, and payment must be equal to or more than 1.5 times the employee’s hourly pay rate.

The well-being of employees remains a top priority in Malaysian employment laws. Adherence to the regulations laid out by the Malaysian Employment Act 1955 and the Labour Law ensures a supportive and sustainable work environment for both employees and employers. These guidelines help promote productivity, employee motivation, and a healthy work-life balance for everyone involved.

Overtime and Pay Regulations

In Malaysia, employers are required to pay overtime wages for work performed beyond the normal working hours, which are typically eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. The Employment (Limitation of Overtime Work) Regulations 1980 sets a limit of 104 hours of overtime work per month, averaging to about four hours per day.

Overtime pay is calculated based on a worker’s hourly rate of pay. For employees covered under the Employment Act 1995, the overtime pay must be equal to or more than 1.5 times the worker’s hourly rate. The Malaysian currency is the Malaysian Ringgit, and it is essential to check the prevailing exchange rates to ensure accurate payroll calculations.

The normal working hours stipulated by the EA 1995 are different for six-day and five-day workweeks. For six-day workweeks, employees can work up to eight hours per day, while in five-day workweeks, the maximum daily working hours are nine. According to recent amendments, Section 60A (1) indicates that an employment contract cannot require employees to work more than eight hours in one day or exceed a 10-hour spread in one day and more than 45 hours in one week.

When it comes to working hours and salary payments, Malaysian Labour Law outlines guidelines for payroll cycles. The payroll cycle typically coincides with the company’s standard operating procedures to ensure a timely distribution of salaries. Factors such as work performance, employee benefits, tax deductions, and contributions to statutory funds are considered when calculating an employee’s salary payment.

Employers in Malaysia need to adhere to overtime work regulations and pay rates as mandated by the Employment Act and other relevant legislation. It is crucial to maintain a professional approach to these matters, ensuring that employees’ rights are protected and that both employers and employees understand the regulations in place.

Leave Provisions

Normal Leaves

In Malaysia, employees have the right to annual leave and sick leave as part of their leave entitlement. Full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 11 gazetted public holidays in one calendar year. Employers often follow a tenure-based criteria to determine the number of paid annual leaves, which can vary for each employee.

In case of illness, employees are also entitled to paid sick leave. It is essential for the employee to provide notice and furnish necessary medical documentation to avail sick leave. The specific sick leave entitlement may vary according to the employee’s tenure and other factors.

Maternity and Paternity Leaves

Malaysia’s labor law provides clear guidelines for maternity leave and paternity leave. Female employees are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, providing support during their pregnancy and postnatal period. This provision aims to ensure good work-life balance for expecting and new mothers while fostering a supportive work environment.

On the other hand, male employees are granted a few days of paternity leave in support of their partner’s pregnancy and childbirth. This benefit allows fathers to spend time with their newborns and share the responsibilities of childcare with their partners during this crucial period.

Malaysia’s labor law ensures adequate leave provisions for employees, accounting for both their personal and professional needs. These provisions aim to maintain a balance between work and life, allowing employees to take time off when necessary while contributing effectively to their workplaces

Employment Conditions and Termination

In Malaysia, employment conditions and termination are primarily governed by the Employment Act 1955 and the Industrial Relations Act. These acts outline provisions for employee benefits, working hours, termination procedures, and other important aspects of the employer-employee relationship.

The standard working hours in Malaysia are limited to a maximum of 8 hours per day and 45-48 hours per week, depending on the nature of the job. Under the Employment Act, overtime work is allowed, but it should not exceed 104 hours per month. Overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times the employee’s hourly rate.

Employment contracts in Malaysia typically start with a probation period, where both the employer and the employee can assess compatibility. Probation periods typically last for 3 to 6 months but may extend for longer durations for some industries. During this time, either party may terminate the contract without needing a just cause or excuse.

Termination of employment requires notifying the employee in advance, with the notice period depending on the employee’s years of service. 

Notice Period
4 weeks notice Less than 2 years employed
6 weeks’ notice More than 2 years but less than 5 years employed
8 weeks’ notice More than 5 years employed

Just cause and excuse for termination of employment may include poor performance, misconduct, or breach of contract. Employers must provide evidence of these reasons to legally justify the termination. In cases of redundancy, such as the closure of a business or restructuring, employers must also follow the notice period requirements and comply with other regulations, including compensating affected employees.

Foreign employees and foreign workers in Malaysia are subject to specific laws and regulations, including obtaining a valid work permit and visa. They must also adhere to their respective employment contracts and the governing labor laws, including those related to termination.

It is important for both employers and employees to understand and adhere to the legal framework governing employment conditions and termination in Malaysia. This ensures a professional work environment that protects employees’ rights while allowing businesses to manage and grow their workforce effectively.

Flexible Work Arrangements

In Malaysia, employees have the right to apply for flexible working arrangements, which can lead to changes in working hours, working days, and even the place of work. Pursuant to the changes contained in the Employment (Amendment) Act 2022, the government allows employees to apply for a Flexible Working Arrangement (FWA) starting from 1 September 2022.

Flexible work arrangements allow employees to negotiate their work schedules with their employers. Such arrangements can include reduced working hours, flexible start and end times, working remotely, or even implementing a compressed workweek like a 4-day work week. Although the standard work week in Malaysia is 40 hours from Monday to Friday, Malaysia’s Public Service Department is actively funding studies into the implementation of a 4-day work week.

To apply for a flexible work arrangement, employees must submit their request in writing. Requests should specify the desired changes and the reasons behind it. Employers should be open to discussing the employee’s proposal and finding a suitable solution that benefits both parties. In addition, employers should note that granting one employee a flexible work arrangement does not obligate them to do so for all other employees. Each request should be assessed individually and based on the employee’s specific circumstances and job role.

Implementing flexible working arrangements can offer a variety of benefits for both employees and employers. Such arrangements can improve work-life balance, reduce employee stress, and boost morale, leading to increased productivity and employee retention. Additionally, employers can attract a wider pool of candidates and gain a competitive edge by offering flexible work arrangements.

Flexible work arrangements in Malaysia provide employees with the opportunity to negotiate their work schedules and enable employers to create a more positive and inclusive work environment. By embracing these changes, companies can enhance employee well-being, drive productivity, and stay competitive in today’s modern workforce

Regional Differences in Working Practices

In Malaysia, there are regional differences in working practices, especially between the states of Sabah, Sarawak, and the rest of the country. Sabah and Sarawak, located on the island of Borneo, have distinct cultures and traditions compared to Peninsular Malaysia. This diversity influences the work environment and business customs in these regions.

In Sabah, the work culture is generally more laid-back and relaxed than in other parts of Malaysia. People in Sabah tend to prioritize interpersonal relationships, and the pace of work can be slower as a result. Businesses in Sabah often prefer to work with local partners or those familiar with the local customs and practices, so understanding the nuances of the regional culture can be beneficial when conducting business in this area.

On the other hand, Sarawak, known for its rich natural resources, has a more robust and thriving business environment. Industries such as oil and gas, forestry, and agriculture play a significant role in the region’s economy, and this affects the working practices. Companies operating in Sarawak have to adapt to the diverse and often challenging geographical conditions, like remote locations and transportation challenges. This necessity often leads to a more resilient and adaptable workforce that can quickly adjust to different working conditions.

Malaysia Labour Force
Malaysia Labour Force, Q2 2023 - Ministry of Economy, Department of Statistics Malaysia

Furthermore, religious and cultural practices are essential factors to consider when doing business in these regions. Both Sabah and Sarawak have a more diverse population, with a mix of indigenous groups, Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Understanding and respecting the local customs, beliefs, and holidays is crucial to fostering strong working relationships and ensuring a harmonious working environment.

The regional differences in working practices in Malaysia require businesses and individuals working in these areas to be aware of the local culture, traditions, and expectations. By understanding and adapting to these variations, companies can successfully navigate the diverse business landscape of Sabah and Sarawak and create productive working environments for their employees and partners.

Workplace Culture and Benefits

Workplace culture in Malaysia is influenced by its diverse population, which includes various ethnic groups such as Malays, Chinese, and Indians. This diverse workforce contributes to a unique blend of cultural influences, languages, values, and practices. Communication style in the Malaysian work culture is generally formal and indirect, with a focus on respecting hierarchy and maintaining harmony in workplace relationships.

Employee benefits in Malaysia are regulated by the country’s Employment Act, which stipulates a maximum of 8 working hours per day and six working days per week. This results in a standard workweek of 40 hours for most employees.

Women working in the industrial or agricultural sectors are granted extra protection under the law, prohibiting them from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Additionally, Malaysia’s labor laws stipulate overtime compensation amounts, which must be equal to or more than 1.5 times an employee’s hourly pay for eligible employees.

In terms of social security benefits, Malaysia has established the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which is a compulsory government-managed pension scheme. Both employers and employees contribute a percentage of the employee’s salary towards the fund, which can be withdrawn upon retirement or under specific qualifying circumstances.

The Malaysian government, led by the Human Resources Minister, is continuously working to improve employment conditions and benefits within the country. They aim to strike a balance between promoting productivity, enhancing the welfare of employees, and ensuring businesses remain competitive within the global market.

The workplace culture and benefits in Malaysia are characterized by a blend of diverse influences, regulated working hours, and a strong emphasis on employee welfare. While the legal framework provides a fundamental level of protection and benefits for employees, there is an ongoing effort by the Malaysian government to improve and refine these regulations.

Legal Obligations and Compliance

In Malaysia, employers are required to adhere to the Employment Act 1955, which governs various aspects of the employment relationship, including working hours and days. The standard working hours in Malaysia are 45 to 48 hours per week, with a maximum of 8 working hours per day and six working days per week. For overtime, the Employment Act (1955) stipulates that employees should not work more than 104 hours of overtime in any one month. Overtime work must be paid at a rate that is no less than 1.5 times the employee’s hourly pay.

Compliance with labor laws in Malaysia is crucial for employers to maintain a healthy work environment and avoid legal disputes. One area of concern for employers is addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. In Malaysia, employers are required to establish a sexual harassment policy as part of their workplace policies to protect employees and mitigate the risk of legal issues arising from sexual harassment incidents.

In addition to sexual harassment, employers in Malaysia need to ensure that they are providing equal opportunities for employees with disabilities. Malaysia has enacted the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008, which mandates equal rights and non-discrimination for individuals with disabilities. Employers are obliged to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities to facilitate their work and participate in workplace activities.

To ensure compliance with employment laws in Malaysia, it is crucial for employers to stay up-to-date with amendments to the Employment Act and other relevant regulations. For instance, the Employment Act Amendments 2022 have been postponed to 1st Jan 2023, which includes several changes that will affect company operations and workforce planning.

It is essential for employers in Malaysia to understand and comply with the country’s labor laws, including the Employment Act 1955, to ensure a fair and healthy work environment for their employees. Addressing key issues such as working hours, overtime pay, sexual harassment, and disability rights in the workplace will help employers maintain a professional work environment and avoid potential legal disputes.

Public and Religious Holidays

In Malaysia, employees enjoy a variety of public and religious holidays throughout the year. Additionally, each state and territory may have its own public holidays, resulting in a diverse array of celebrations across the country.

May 1Labour Day
May 4Wesak Day
June 29Hari Raya Haji
July 19Awal Muharram
September 28Prophet’s Birthday
December 25Christmas Day

Public and religious holidays in Malaysia are often celebrated with traditional events, religious observances, and family gatherings. These holidays not only provide employees with time off from work, but also contribute to the cultural richness of the country.

Employees covered under Malaysia’s Employment Act are entitled to paid holidays at their ordinary rate of pay on 11 gazetted public holidays within one calendar year. If a public holiday falls on a rest day or a non-working day, then the following working day will be designated as a paid public holiday.

It is worth noting that in cases where employees work during public and religious holidays, they may be eligible for overtime compensation, which is at least 1.5 times their hourly pay rate. Employers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Malaysia’s labor laws to ensure they are in compliance with public holiday regulations.

In summary, Malaysia’s diverse cultural landscape includes numerous public and religious holidays. Employees benefit from paid time off during these celebrations, and employers must adhere to the country’s labor laws regarding holiday entitlements.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Malaysia, employees typically work 45-48 hours per week, with a maximum of 8 working hours per day and six working days per week source.

For full-time employment in Malaysia, the Employment Act 1955 stipulates that the maximum working hours should not exceed 48 hours per week source.

Yes, Saturdays are often included in the standard working week in Malaysia, as employees typically work six days a week source.

Employees in Malaysia are required to have a minimum of 30 minutes of rest or meal breaks for every 5 consecutive hours of work source. This indicates that lunchtime is not included within working hours.

Assuming an employee works for 48 hours per week and 4 weeks per month, the typical monthly working hours for employees in Malaysia would be 192 hours.

Yes, there are amendments to the Employment Act in Malaysia that were postponed from 1st September 2022 to 1st Jan 2023, which will affect company operations and workforce planning source.

Milly is an international lawyer and tech entrepreneur who has advised companies on expanding globally for over 5 years. She is an advocate of remote hiring and regularly consults on future of work matters. Milly founded RemotePad to help employers learn more about building and growing international teams.