30 July was the coronation day for the new King of Malaysia. As such, the government declared the Tuesday a public holiday.

Under Section 60D(1)(a) of the Employment Act 1955, companies are only required to observe 11 days of public holidays, offering paid leave to workers. In the weeks leading up to coronation day, a printing company sent out a memo to employees, stating that the company will not observe the holiday due to having already set aside the 11 required days for 2019.

Unfortunately for the company, the memo was leaked and garnered viral attention from social media. Heated debates broke out with many condemning the company for their treatment of employees; while others came to the company’s defence, stating that productivity was already rather low in the country overall, and that the company already observed the law.

The Department of Labour of Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM) was on the side of the former, saying that companies that refuse to recognise the King’s Coronation Day as a public holiday will face action.

“This matter is now being investigated by JTKSM’ legal compliance unit. The employer will be informed of its responsibility to comply with Section 60D(1) of the Employment Act 1955,” JTKSM said in a statement.

It pointed out that while Section 60D(1)(a) of the Employment Act 1955 states that the public holidays in a year shall be 11 days, Section 60D(1)(b) also states that the government can declare any additional days as a public holiday in accordance with the Holidays Act 1951.

“Therefore, the total paid public holidays for employees in 2019 is 12 days. JTKSM will take legal action against employers who refuse to comply with its obligation under Section 60D of the Employment Act 1955,” it said.

Malaysia is a country of many diverse cultures and religions. As such, there are many celebrations that the nation observes. This results in Malaysia being a country that has a relatively high number of public holidays compared to others.

As a result, some private company owners may feel troubled when new public holidays are suddenly announced without any prior warning, especially when employment laws state that only 11 days are required to be observed.