Public Holidays in Malaysia

How many Public Holidays do we have in Malaysia?
Public Holiday are listed in the First Schedule of the Holidays Act. The 10 Public Holidays listed in the schedule is observed throughout Malaysia as follows:

  • Chinese New Year
  • Wesak Day
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri – 2 days Merdeka Day (31 August)
  • Hari Raya Haji
  • Agong’s Birthday
  • Malaysia Day (16 September)
  • Deepavali
  • Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
  • Christmas Day (25 December)

It is interesting to note that only one day for Chinese New Year holiday in the States of Kelantan and Terengganu, two days in the other States while two days Hari Raya Haji holiday in the States of Kelantan and Terengganu, one day in the other States.

State Level Public Holiday
In Malaysia, we have two types of public holidays, those at national and state levels. National holidays are the above mentioned public holiday, normally observed by most governmental and private organisations. State holidays are normally observed by certain states in Malaysia or when it is relevant to the state itself according to section 9(1) of the Holidays Act.
As an example let us take Kuala Lumpur, the national capital of the country. Kuala Lumpur celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, Thaipusam, Nuzul Al-Quran and Awal Muharram.
Kuala Lumpur also celebrates a special holiday called Federal Territory Day along with only two other territories on February 1 according to section 9(2) of the Holidays Act. Federal Territory Day in Kuala Lumpur celebrates the formation of the territory in 1974. Prior to that, Kuala Lumpur and the area now known as Putrajaya were under the state of Selangor.

The Private Sector: 11 Days to be Observed
5 Compulsory Days and 6 Elective Days
Fortunately, for the Employers, Section 60D of the Employment Act only provides every employees to be entitled to the 11 gazetted public holidays and any day appointed as a public holiday under section 8 of the Holidays Act (for example, September 4, 2017).
That is to say employers are not required to observe these state level holidays. As such, the employees are still required to work as usual if the employers do not declare these state level holidays as paid holidays.
Exceptions are, Federal Territory Day must be observed in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajya and Labuan. In other states, the Birthday of the Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri must be observed.

Section 60D provides that the employer must list 11 gazetted public holidays that the employees are entitled to before the commencement of each calendar year, 5 of which shall be:

  • the National Day (31 August)
  • the Birthday of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
  • the Birthday of the Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, as the case may be, of the State in which the employee wholly or mainly works under his contract of service, or the Federal Territory Day, if the employee wholly or mainly works in the Federal Territory
  • the Workers’ Day ( 1 May)
  • Malaysia Day (16 September)

The Employers are free to choose the remaining 6 holidays to make up the 11 days.

This section allows the employers to ask the employees to come to work on Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidifiltri or Deepavali! As stated earlier, the employer need to list which 11 gazetted public holiday, if your day is not in the list, you have to be absent from the table of family gathering.

The Minister can create more holidays!
The Minister can declare any day as a public holiday according to section 8 of the Holidays Act. This section basically gives the Minister responsible the power to appoint any day he wants as a public holiday in the Peninsular, the Federal Territories or certain States (after consulting the States).
Based on the above mentioned section, Prime Minister is the Minister charged with responsibility for public holiday. He may appoint any date as a public holiday.
This holiday is a national holiday and observed throughout Malaysia by the public sector and the private sector. Private sector is governed by Employment Act 1955.
It is important to note that the Employment Act only applies to Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak, collectively called East Malaysia, have maintained separate labour enactments.

Can the employer asks the employees to work on a Declared Public Holiday?
Under Section 60 of Employment Act, an employee may be required to work on any paid holiday subjected to two days’ wages at the ordinary rate of pay.
In addition, section 60D 3(b) provides that an employee who works on a holiday shall be entitled to a travelling allowance for that day if payable to him under the terms of his agreement with his employer but such employee shall not be entitled under this subsection to receive an increased rate of any housing allowance or food allowance.
Employer may be fined if does not grant leave.

Replacement Day
Some companies may have plans on announced public holidays. The employer may grant the employee any other day as a paid public holiday in substitution for any of the public holidays according to Section 60D (1A) of the Employment Act.

There are only 11 days of paid Public Holidays, out of which the employers may choose 6 out of 11, there are some special holidays the Minister may declare from time to time as special holidays.
However, the employers may nominate a replacement day for these holidays declared at short notice.
If the employers should require the employees to work during those holidays declared by the minister, the rate of pay is that of a public holiday.

For the list of Public Hollidays, please refer to:-


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