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    Annual Leave Entitlements: Deciphering Labor Laws in Malaysia

    April 29, 2024

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    Annual Leave Entitlements: Deciphering Labour Laws in Malaysia

    Annual leave is a crucial aspect of employment agreements, offering employees time off for rest, recreation, and personal commitments. 

    Understanding the intricacies of annual leave entitlements is paramount for employers and employees, particularly in jurisdictions like Malaysia, where labour laws govern such provisions. 

    In Malaysia, the Employment Act 1955 stipulates the minimum requirements for annual leave entitlements, ensuring fair treatment and work-life balance for employees. Hence, a comprehensive grasp of Malaysia's labor laws concerning annual leave is essential for employers to fulfil their obligations and for employees to know their rights. 

    In this blog, we’ll give you a high-level overview of the leave entitlement process in Malaysia and everything around it.

    Understanding Annual Leave Entitlements in Malaysia

    In Malaysia, annual leave entitlements for employees are governed by a robust legal framework, primarily the Employment Act 1955, which outlines the minimum standards and provisions for employment practices in the country. Understanding these labour laws is essential for employers and employees to ensure compliance and uphold the rights and obligations of annual leave.

    The Employment Act of 1955 mandates certain statutory requirements regarding annual leave entitlements, ensuring fair treatment and work-life balance for employees. According to the Act, employees who have completed at least one year of continuous service with the same employer are entitled to annual leave benefits. The duration of annual leave entitlement varies based on the length of service, with longer-serving employees typically eligible for more leave days.

    Under the Employment Act 1955, employees are entitled to a minimum of 8 days of annual leave for every 12 months of continuous service with the same employer. However, this entitlement increases with the duration of service, with additional days granted for each subsequent year of service, up to a maximum of 16 days per year.

    Employers must provide annual leave following the provisions outlined in the Employment Act 1955, including the calculation of leave entitlement, accrual of leave days, and the scheduling of leave periods. Failure to comply with these statutory requirements may result in penalties and legal consequences for employers.

    Learn More: 11 Key Amendments to the Malaysian Employment Act, 1955: Implications for 2024 and Beyond

    How to Calculate Annual Leave Entitlements?

    Determine Eligibility

    Check if the employee meets the eligibility criteria per the Employment Act 1955, including completing one year of continuous service with the same employer.

    Identify Length of Service

    Calculate the total length of continuous service in years, including any fractional years.

    Determine Minimum Entitlement

    Refer to the Employment Act 1955 provisions to ascertain the minimum annual leave entitlement based on the length of service.

    For example, employees with less than two years of service are entitled to at least 8 days of annual leave per year.

    Consider Additional Entitlements

    Determine if the employee is entitled to additional leave days based on longer service periods.

    Calculate additional entitlements as per the provisions of the Employment Act 1955.

    For example, employees with two or more years of service are entitled to an additional day of leave for each subsequent year, up to 16 days per year.

    Account for Working Days

    Determine the number of working days per week per the employee's regular schedule.

    Multiply the number of working days by the total annual leave entitlement to calculate the total number of leave days.

    Adjust for Employment Status

    Consider any adjustments required for part-time or irregular employment arrangements.

    Calculate the pro-rated annual leave entitlement based on the employee's working hours or days.

    Finalise Calculation

    Confirm the total annual leave entitlement for the employee based on the factors considered.

    Communicate the calculated entitlement to the employee and record it accurately in employment records.

    Example Calculation

    Employee A has been with the company for three years, working five days a week.

    According to the Employment Act 1955, the minimum annual leave entitlement is eight days for the first two years and an additional day for each subsequent year.

    Calculation: 8 days (first year) + 8 days (second year) + 3 days (additional for third year) = 19 days of annual leave entitlement per year.

    Adjustments for part-time or irregular employment arrangements may be made based on actual working hours or days.

    Annual Leave Policies and Procedures

    Employers in Malaysia typically establish annual leave policies and procedures to regulate the granting and utilisation of annual leave by employees. These policies are often designed to comply with the statutory requirements outlined in the Employment Act 1955 while also catering to the organisation's specific needs and operational requirements.

    1. Accrual and Accumulation

      Many employers adopt a system where annual leave entitlement accrues over time based on the length of service. Employees may accrue leave days on a monthly or yearly basis, accumulating unused leave for future use.

    2. Entitlement Calculation

      Employers calculate annual leave entitlements based on length of service, employment status (full-time, part-time), and working schedule (number of working days per week).

    3. Requesting Annual Leave

      Employees are typically required to submit a formal request for annual leave in advance, following established procedures outlined by the organisation. This may involve completing a leave application form or using an online leave management system.

    4. Approval Process

      Supervisors or managers review leave requests to ensure they align with operational requirements and do not disrupt workflow. Once approved, employees are notified of the decision, and the leave is scheduled accordingly.

    5. Leave Balance Monitoring

      Employers maintain records of annual leave balances, tracking accruals, utilisation, and carry-over of unused leave days. Employees may access their leave balances through HR portals or other communication channels.

    6. Special Circumstances

      Employers may have provisions to address special circumstances related to annual leave, such as emergencies, unexpected leave requests, or overlapping requests from multiple employees.

    Learn More: 7 Ways to Prepare for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) in Malaysia

    Annual Leave Rights and Obligations

    Employees in Malaysia have the statutory right to take annual leave as outlined in the Employment Act 1955. They are entitled to a minimum number of annual leave days based on the length of their continuous service with the same employer. This entitlement ensures that employees have adequate time for rest, relaxation, and personal pursuits outside work obligations.

    Employers have several responsibilities regarding annual leave, including:

    • Providing Entitlement: Employers must ensure that employees are aware of their annual leave entitlements and receive their entitled leave days as per the provisions of the Employment Act 1955.
    • Granting Leave: Employers must grant annual leave to eligible employees upon request, subject to operational requirements and scheduling considerations.
    • Maintaining Records: Employers must maintain accurate records of employees' annual leave entitlements, accruals, utilisation, and balances to ensure compliance with legal requirements and facilitate leave management.
    • Complying with Regulations: Employers must comply with all relevant regulations and laws governing annual leave, including the Employment Act 1955 and any industry-specific provisions or collective agreements.

    Failure to comply with annual leave regulations can have several consequences for both employers and employees:

    • Legal Penalties: Employers may face legal penalties, fines, or sanctions for non-compliance with annual leave regulations, including violations of the Employment Act 1955.
    • Employee Dissatisfaction: Non-compliance with annual leave entitlements can lead to dissatisfaction, low morale, and decreased productivity, ultimately impacting organisational performance.
    • Reputation Damage: Employers may suffer reputational damage and loss of trust among employees, stakeholders, and the public due to perceived unfair treatment or disregard for employee rights.

    Learn More: A Complete Guide to the Employment (Amendment) Act, 2022, in Malaysia

    Annual Leave Management Tips

    Effectively managing annual leave entitlements requires clear communication, proactive planning, and balancing employee needs and business requirements. Here are some important tips:

    Communicate Clearly

    Communicate annual leave policies, entitlements, and procedures to employees, ensuring they understand their rights and obligations.

    Plan Ahead

    Encourage employees to plan their annual leave well in advance, especially during peak periods or busy seasons, to minimise disruptions to workflow.

    Maintain Accurate Records

    Keep detailed records of employees' annual leave entitlements, accruals, balances, and utilisation to ensure compliance with regulations and facilitate effective leave management.

    Implement Fair and Transparent Practices

    Ensure fairness and transparency in the allocation and approval of annual leave, avoiding favouritism or discrimination in granting leave requests.

    Offer Flexibility

    Consider implementing flexible scheduling options, such as staggered leave periods or remote work arrangements, to accommodate employees' personal preferences and optimise staffing levels.

    Cross-Train Employees

    Cross-train employees to perform essential tasks and responsibilities, enabling smoother operations and coverage during periods of staff absence due to annual leave.

    Manage Expectations

    Set realistic expectations regarding annual leave entitlements, availability, and coverage, clarifying any limitations or constraints to avoid misunderstandings or conflicts.

    Encourage Team Collaboration

    Foster a collaborative team environment where employees support each other and coordinate leave schedules to ensure continuous workflow and productivity.

    Address Challenges Promptly

    Address any challenges or conflicts related to annual leave management promptly and fairly, providing timely resolutions and support to affected employees.

    Seek Feedback and Continuous Improvement

    Solicit employee feedback regarding annual leave policies and procedures and regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of leave management practices to identify areas for improvement.

    Learn More:  Flexible Work Arrangement Policy in Malaysia: Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

    Final Words

    The leave entitlement process in Malaysia is a crucial aspect of employee management, ensuring workers are granted the necessary time off for rest, recovery, and personal matters. 

    Employees and employers can navigate the leave entitlement process by following a systematic approach outlined in company policies and employment laws. This includes understanding entitlements, requesting leave, obtaining approval, recording leave accurately, and ensuring compliance with regulations. 

    If you want to discover how to streamline and deploy this framework seamlessly within your organisation, Darwinbox offers a solution. Our platform can assist in identifying key roles, establishing success criteria, and identifying top talent to fulfil these roles. With a proven track record, trusted by over 880 enterprises worldwide for simplifying their HR operations, we invite you to join a demo session with our experts to see it in action.


    In Malaysia, employees are entitled to a minimum of 8 days of annual leave for every 12 months of continuous service with the same employer, with additional days granted based on the length of service, up to a maximum of 16 days per year.
    Employers cannot arbitrarily deny annual leave to employees unless there are legitimate operational reasons or the denial is by the provisions of the Employment Act 1955 or relevant collective agreements.
    Yes, part-time employees in Malaysia are entitled to annual leave, with their entitlement prorated based on their actual working hours or days compared to full-time employees.
    If an employee does not utilize their annual leave, it typically does not accrue or roll over to the following year. Instead, the unused leave days may be forfeited unless otherwise specified by the employer's policies or collective agreements.
    Yes, annual leave can be carried forward to the next year under certain circumstances, such as when it is not feasible for the employee to utilize all of their leave days due to operational reasons or upon mutual agreement between the employer and employee. However, any carried-over leave must be utilized within a specified timeframe to avoid forfeiture.
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