Malaysia Leave Laws

March 5th 2024

In Malaysia, leave laws ensure a fair and equitable treatment of employees across various sectors. These laws are designed to balance the needs of both employers and employees, providing guidelines for authorized absence from work.

Understanding Malaysia’s leave laws is essential for employers to fulfill their legal obligations and for employees to assert their rights effectively. With a clear understanding of these laws, employers can establish fair leave policies, while employees can confidently use their entitlements and obligations regarding leave.

This article explores the key aspects of Malaysia’s leave laws.

This Article Covers:

Mandatory Leave in Malaysia

Non-Mandatory Leave in Malaysia

Unused Annual Leave

Mandatory Leave in Malaysia

The Employment Act 1955 specifies the following leave as mandatory, and employers are obligated to follow Malaysia leave laws to avoid potential legal consequences.

Annual Leave

Employers in Malaysia are required to provide paid annual leave for their employees. However, this leave is subject to qualifying criteria. The number of days an employee can request such leave is highly dependent on their length of employment, and the person must have worked for at least a year.

Number of annual days per year Period of employment
8 days per year 1 to 2 years
12 days per year 2 to 5 years
16 days per year More than 5 years

However, employees who have worked for less than a year but who need to leave the company must be granted paid leave. For example, an employee who has worked for 6 months is eligible for 4 days of paid leave.

Companies may waive an employee’s right to annual paid leave if they have been absent without permission or for no reasonable cause for more than 10% of their working time.

Sick Leave

Aside from paid annual leave, the number of paid sick days also depends on the employment period. Employees who are sick but do not require hospitalization are entitled to:

Days of sick leave Employment duration
14 days per year 1 to 2 years
18 days per year 2 to 5 years
22 days per year More than 5 years

Employees have to consult a medical practitioner, medical officer, or dental surgeon about their sickness. Employees should also inform their employees of sick leave within 48 hours, or they will be deemed absent from work without reasonable excuse.

If the illness is more serious and requires hospitalization, employees receive 60 days of paid sick leave in total, regardless of their period of employment.

Maternity Leave 

Under the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021, female employees are now entitled to 98 consecutive days of maternity leave, an increase from what was previously 60 days. The leave is accessible to all female pregnant employees, regardless of income level, provided that they joined the organization at least 4 months ahead of their due date. Maternity leave can only be taken 30 days before an employee’s due date.

If an employee is pregnant or suffering from a pregnancy-related illness, an employer may not terminate employment or give a notice of termination of employment, except on the grounds of

  • Willful breach of a condition of the contract of service;
  • Misconduct; or
  • Closure of the employer’s business.

In cases where an employee is terminated under the aforementioned conditions, the employer must prove that the employee’s termination was not on the grounds of her pregnancy or pregnancy-related illness.

Paternity Leave

In Malaysia, married male employees can request 7 consecutive days of paid paternity leave. However, the employee must have:

  • Rendered at least 12 months’ work before the request for paternity leave.
  • Notified the employer of his spouse’s pregnancy at least 30 days before the expected date of delivery or as early as possible after birth.

Hospitalization Leave

In addition to sick leave, employers are obligated to provide 60 days of hospitalization leave per year to employees. Upon requesting leave, the employee must present a medical certificate provided by a doctor. These are some situations that would qualify for hospitalization leave:

  • An employee confined at a hospital or having undergone outpatient surgery.
  • A recipient of medical advice to observe bed rest (e.g., pregnancy-related complications).
  • An employee required to rest or observe continued medical treatment for their condition after being discharged from the hospital.

Public Holidays

Employees in Malaysia are entitled to 11 paid holidays each year. Authorities can establish additional public holidays for special years, such as the one on July 30, 2019, to commemorate the coronation of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

Employers must give leave on public holidays, and if the company cannot for some, they should provide paid leave on another day. Likewise, if a public holiday falls on an employee’s sick or annual leave period, the company should replace their leave for another day.

If an employee is compelled to work on a public holiday, they will be eligible for holiday pay and an additional 200% premium on their regular pay. This applies even if the hours worked that day are shorter than their regular working hours.

Non-Mandatory Leave in Malaysia

The following types of leave are optional for employers in Malaysia. Many organizations do choose to extend these benefits as part of their commitment to employee well-being and happiness.

Unpaid Leave

Unpaid leave is a flexible alternative for employees who need time off for personal obligations, but who have used up their paid leave entitlement. The terms and circumstances for unpaid leave differ among organizations, and so employees need to consult with their individual Human Resources department.

Check out this Guide to Unpaid Leave in Malaysia to learn more.

Emergency Leave

Employers are not required to grant emergency leave to their employees. However, they can choose to extend emergency leave of 2 to 3 days per year to accommodate their employees’ personal obligations. Any further absences can be marked as unpaid leave or deducted from the employee’s yearly leave benefits.

Employees must have a reasonable justification for their absence, and must have told or notified the employer as soon as possible about unanticipated circumstances.

Compassionate Leave

As far as Malaysia leave laws are concerned, compassionate or bereavement leave is optional. However, numerous organizations include bereavement leave in their company-wide employment agreements. Employers typically provide 2 to 5 days of paid or unpaid compassionate leave.

Marriage Leave

Employers are not required by law to provide employees with paid time off to celebrate their wedding day or the weddings of close family members. If the employer offers marital leave, the amount of days awarded will vary according to the company’s policy.

Disaster Leave

Although disaster leave is not required under Malaysian leave laws, employers must follow the National Center for Disaster Management (NCDM)‘s guidelines in the event of a calamity. The agency has the authority to refuse employees to report to work for any reason, including flood, landslide, earthquake, bridge collapse, and other unfortunate or natural calamities. It could be that the authorities have issued public restriction orders to block highways or that curfews have been imposed due to the calamity, making it difficult for employees to get to work.

Employees must submit information and confirmation of the nature of the emergency.

Study Leave

Some employees enroll in short courses that benefit their organization or career development, or they take exams that lead to accreditation for professional promotion. While employers are not required to grant study leave, several support their employees’ professional advancement.

Birthday Leave

In Malaysia, employers are not required to grant their employees birthday leave. Nonetheless, a number of employers consider providing this optional benefit to be more proactive toward their employees.

Childcare Leave

Some employers provide childcare leave to their employees who need time off from work to care for their children. This can be helpful for new fathers who only have 7 days of legally paid paternity leave.

Hajj Leave

Given that the vast majority of Malaysia’s population is Muslim, Hajj, or pilgrimage vacation, is a valuable benefit for employees. It enables Muslim employees to perform Hajj or Umrah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Replacement Leave

Employees who have to work on rest days or public holidays are paid with overtime pay or replacement leave. Replacement leave is provided to employees who do not fulfill the eligibility standards for overtime pay, notably those earning RM4,000 per month. This leave ensures that all employees receive appropriate compensation for their time and effort.

Unused Annual Leave

Employees must take their annual leave within 12 months. However, if they have unused annual leave before the end of the year, they have two options:

  • Carry forward: Unused annual leave might be utilized in the following year. However, this depends on the employer’s policy.
  • Encashment: The employer could reimburse the employee for any unused annual leave. Unpaid leave should be compensated according to the employee’s regular rate of pay.

The above alternatives are not required under Malaysia leave laws. The decision is subject to the company’s terms and conditions, and to the employer’s discretion.

Learn more about Leave Entitlement in Malaysia and Malaysia labour laws.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide, we have tried to make it as accurate as possible. However, we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you to seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred by the use of this guide.