5 Employee Rights That You Probably Should Know As A Malaysian
Whether you’re a fresh graduate starting in the workforce or a seasoned professional, understanding your rights as an employee is crucial to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of.
While most reputable companies and workplaces will follow labour laws and regulations, it’s always a good idea to be aware of what your rights are to protect yourself from any unscrupulous organisations or practices.
In the article, we talk about five employee rights that you should probably know when you enter the workforce.
The Employment Act and who it covers
From unfair termination to late payment of salaries, it’s important to realise that you can’t rely on your bosses when it comes to protecting your rights as a worker.
Thankfully, Malaysia has robust protection for workers with the Employment Act (EA) 1955, which sets out the minimum benefits that you should have.
With the Employment (Amendment of First Schedule) Order 2022 that was gazetted in August 2022, the EA now covers all employees regardless of their monthly wages.
Previously, the benefits only applied to employees with salaries that did not exceed RM2,000 and to certain sections of workers such as domestic servants and manual labour.
1. You can reject overtime work
The subject of overtime work can be a sensitive topic among workers. Some might be fine with it, some might not, but ultimately, it should be your decision.
Under the EA, anything beyond what constitutes your “normal working hours” will be deemed overtime work and at that point, you do have the right to reject any overtime work if it is not stated in your contract or if you have not given prior consent.
As for what constitutes “normal working hours”, here’s what it says in Section 60A of the EA:
60A. (1) Except as hereinafter provided, an employee shall not be required under his contract of service to work—
(a) more than five consecutive hours without a period of leisure of not less than thirty minutes duration;
(b) more than eight hours in one day;
(c) in excess of a spread over period of ten hours in one day;
(d) more than forty-five hours in one week:
2. You can (somewhat) talk about your salary
We’re often told that discussing our salaries amongst colleagues is a “big no-no” with tales of people getting in trouble and being reprimanded by HR if it happens.
You might even be worried that your company could take legal action against you. But here’s the thing, there are no laws in Malaysia that prevent employees from discussing their salaries.
It doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe to talk about your salary. The employment contract that you signed might have a confidentiality agreement or a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that states you’re not allowed to discuss salaries openly.
Whether or not these clauses are enforceable is hard to gauge as once you’ve signed your employment contract, the NDA will serve as a binding contract between you and your employer.
So, it’s best to check with either your HR or your employment contract on what the company policies are when it comes to talking about your salaries.
3. You can’t be forced to take an annual leave
Whenever Chinese New Year or Hari Raya comes around, people are expected to take long periods of annual leave. Some companies might even go as far as to close the company for the week and make it compulsory for you to take annual leave as well.
But here’s the thing, your employers cannot force you to take annual leave or unpaid leave at all.
AskLegal confirmed this with Malaysian Human Resources which states that “an employer cannot force his employees to take an annual leave”.
But under Section 60E (1) of the EA, you are entitled to paid annual leave depending on how long you’ve been with the company and have every right to use it however you want to.
4. You can’t be fired while on maternity leave
If you’re a female employee, the EA ensures that you’re protected if you get pregnant by giving you maternity leave for a period of not less than sixty consecutive days plus a maternity allowance which is your ordinary monthly salary.
Another protection that you have is that your employers cannot fire you when you’re on maternity leave as that is an offence according to Section 37 (4) of the EA:
“Any employer who terminates the service of a female employee during the period in which she is entitled to maternity leave commits an offence.”
If you do get fired while on maternity leave, then you’re well within your rights to file a complaint against your employer.
5. Your employer can’t reject your resignation letter
It’s not unheard of for employers to reject an employee’s resignation, either because they are integral to the business or just can’t afford to lose that employee.
But is it even legal to have your resignation letter rejected, or even in some cases, ignored?
The short and simple answer: No, they can’t stop you from resigning. Not only is it unethical, but it is literally against the law under Section 12 of the EA, which states:
“Either party to a contract of service may at any time give to the other party notice of his intention to terminate such contract of service.”
This means that whether or not your boss sees or ignores your resignation, as long as you have evidence of you sending a formal notice, then they have no right to reject it.
If your rights as an employee are violated, take action
If you face any issues at your workplace or with your employer, it doesn’t mean that you should feel powerless and do nothing about it.
Policies such as the EA 1955 are designed to make sure you are not taken advantage of or being treated unfairly in your workplace.
Just graduated and need help figuring out what to do to get your first job? Here’s our guide on what you can do to improve your chances of landing your ideal job.