After gaining independence in 1957, Malaysia worked towards diversifying its economy and became the fourth largest economy of South-East Asia. With technology taking center stage in Malaysia, global tech giants have started to see the potential there and are investing substantially in the Malaysian market.
It is undoubtedly a great time to expand your base in this Asian nation. So here’s everything one must know about the Malaysian employment laws and how to set up a subsidiary in Malaysia.
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) 1 RM = 0.24 USD
Economic Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Spoken Language: Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil
GDP: 4.7% growth rate (2018)
Time Zone: UTC (+8:00)
Minimum Wage: 1,200 ringgits (US$283) per month (Source: ASEAN Briefing)
Payroll Cycle: Monthly
Pay Date: 7th of the following month
Working Hours: 45-48 hours per week, with a maximum of 8 working hours per day and six working days per week.
Overtime Compensation: Only EA employees are entitled by law to overtime pay. The amount must be equal to or more than 1.5 times the employee’s hourly pay.
Public Holidays: Here is a list of national and regional holidays in Malaysia.
|New Year’s Day||All regions except Johor||1 January|
|Birthday of the Sultan of Negeri Sembilan||Negeri Sembilan||14th January|
|Chinese New Year||National||Movable Date|
|Federal Territory Day||Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya||1st February|
|Thaipusam||Johor, Kuala Lumpur,Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Putrajaya &Selango||Movable Date|
|Installation of Sultan Terengganu||Terengganu||4th March|
|Israk and Mikraj||Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis & Terengganu||Movable Date|
|Birthday of Sultan of Joho||Johor||23rd March|
|Good Friday||Sabah & Sarawak||Movable Date|
|Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City||Malacca||15th April|
|Beginning of Ramadan||Johor, Kedah & Melacca||Movable Date|
|Birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu||Terengganu||26th April|
|Labour Day||National||1st May|
|Wesak Day||National||Movable Date|
|Nuzul Quran||All regions except Johor||Movable Date|
|Harvest Festival||Labuan & Sabah||30th or 31st May|
|Hari Gawai Day (Dayak Festival)||Sarawak||1st & 2nd June|
|Birthday of Agong||National||First Monday of June|
|Birthday of Sultan of Kedah||Kedah||Third Sunday of June|
|Georgetown Heritage Day||Penang||7th July|
|Birthday of the Raja of Perlis||Perlis||17th July|
|Sarawak Day||Sarawak||22nd July|
|Birthday of the Sultan of Pahang||Pahang||30th July|
|Hari Raya Haji||National||Movable Date|
|Awal Muharram||National||Movable Date|
|Merdeka Day||National||31st August|
|Malaysia Day||National||16th September|
|Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar||Johor||Movable Date|
|Birthday of the Governor of Sabah||Sabah||First Saturday of October|
|Birthday of the Governor of Melaka||Melaka||Movable Date|
|Birthday of the Governor of Sarawak||Sarawak||Movable Date|
|Prophet Mohamad’s Birthday||National||Movable Date|
|Birthday of the Governor of Perak||Perak||First Friday of November|
|Birthday of the Governor of Kelantan||Kelantan||11th November|
|Deepavali||All regions except Sarawak||Movable Date|
|Birthday of Sultan of Selangor||Selangor||11th December|
Annual Leaves: Full-time employees are entitled to 11 gazetted public holidays in one calendar year. Apart from that, employers usually follow the below tenure criteria to provide paid leaves:
|Years of service||Number of leaves|
|<2 years of service||14 days|
|>2 but <5 years of service||18 days|
|>5 years of service||22 days|
Sick Leaves: On provision of a medical certificate, employees are entitled to the following number of paid sick leaves:
|Years of service||Number of leaves|
|<2 years of service||8 days|
|>2 but <5 years of service||12 days|
|>5 years of service||16 days|
Maternity Leave: 60 days to a full-time female employee if she has worked with the employer for at least four months. Of late, companies are granting 90 days of maternity leave.
Paternity Leave: No statutory law dictates employers to provide paternity leave. The government sector usually provides 3 to 14 days off (paid or unpaid).
Marriage Leave: 3 days for self
Adoption Leave: 1-2 days
Childcare: 1-5 days
Death: 3 days
Personal Income Tax: For resident full-time, contract, or freelance employees, the net taxable income after the tax exemptions and tax reliefs is subjected to the progressive tax rate starting from 1-30% on income > RM 5,000. For non-resident employees, a flat tax rate of 30% applies to the total taxable income.
Income Tax Return (ITR): Employers must provide Form EA by the last day of February. The deadline for resident individuals to file their taxes is 30 April (for offline channels) and 15 May for e-Filing.
Corporate Income Tax (CIT): For both resident and non-resident companies, the current CIT rates are:
|Company Type||Chargeable Income (RM)||CIT(%) for 2019 & 2020|
|Resident Company with: Paid up capital < RM 2.5 Mn and gross income < RM 50 Mn. Does not control, directly or indirectly, and is not controlled either by company with paid up capital of more than RM 2.5 Mn||On the first RM 600,000||17%|
|In excess of RM 600,000||24%|
|Non - resident Company||24%|
Service Tax: 6% on any taxable service provided by a registered business in Malaysia.
Social Security Organisation (SOCSO): Divided into two schemes – Employment Injury Insurance Scheme (EIIS) and the Invalidity Pension Scheme (IPS). Employer and employee contribute RM 69.05 and RM19.75 towards EIIS and IPS, respectively.
Employment Insurance System (EIS): It protects workers who have lost their employment. It helps individuals upskill and train to enhance their employability. Both the employer and employee make monthly contributions of 0.2% of the employee’s wage up to RM 7.90. EIS covers only Malaysian citizens and permanent residents.
Bonus: At the employer’s discretion
Optional Voluntary Benefits: Payment for Long Service, allowances for housing and transport, medical insurance schemes, and retirement or pension schemes.
Retirement Age: 60 years minimum. Organizations have the liberty to decide any feasible number > 60 for their employees.
Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF): Retirement saving scheme mandatory for all Malaysians and permanent residents employed in Malaysia. It is optional for expatriates and non-Malayasian residents. The contributions are as follows:
This scheme provides old-age, survival, and disability benefits. EPF members may withdraw funds at age 55. A voluntary social insurance system for low earners provides disability and work injury benefits.
Probation Period: Organisations usually follow a 3-6 months probationary period.
Termination Procedure: Both the employee and the employer have the right to terminate the contract. It is recommended that both sides follow the prescribed protocol. An employee must lawfully resign, serving the minimum notice period as mentioned in the agreement. The employer cannot terminate the contract without “just cause and excuse,” which means only reasons such as poor performance, misconduct, or redundancy shall be accepted.
Notice Period: As mentioned in the contract
Separation Payment: Severance pay for employees terminated for reasons not connected to their conduct are as follows:
Types of Business: Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), Private Limited Company (Sendirian Berhad), Public Limited Company (Berhad), Sole Proprietorship, Partnership.
Coworking Cost: Major coworking spaces are located in the Klang Valley. Low-cost coworking space like a hot desk costs around RM 400 per month. A fixed desk coworking space costs around RM 600 per month. Private offices are an excellent choice for teams for their flexibility in optimizing the workstations. They cost around RM 1000 per month.
Visa: For employers planning to set up business in Malaysia, a multiple entry visa is the most viable option. Foreign employees can get an employment pass with a maximum of 5 years validity. Organizations with vetted interests should note that employment passes are offered to foreign employees when qualifications brought in by them cannot be fulfilled by Malaysian citizens.