Malaysia celebrates 14 festival holidays, most in the world, due to our diverse culture. Which is why it’s prudent for both employees and employers to plan ahead for public holiday getaways well in advance.
Public Holidays in Malaysia 2020
1 January 2020 (Wednesday) New Year’s Day (except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Terengganu)
14 January 2020 (Tuesday) YDPB Negeri Sembilan’s Birthday (Negeri Sembilan only)
25 & 26 January 2020 (Saturday & Sunday) Chinese New Year
27 January 2020 (Monday) Chinese New Year (except Johor & Kedah)
1 February 2020 (Saturday) Federal Territory Day (Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya)
8 February 2020 (Saturday) Thaipusam (Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Putrajaya & Selangor)
4 March 2020 (Wednesday) Installation of Sultan Terengganu (Terengganu only)
22 March 2020 (Sunday) Israk and Mikraj (Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis & Terengganu only)
23 March 2020 (Monday) Sultan of Johor’s Birthday (Johor only)
23 March 2020 (Monday) Israk and Mikraj Holiday (Negeri Sembilan & Perlis only)
10 April 2020 (Friday) Good Friday (Sabah & Sarawak only)
15 April 2020 (Wednesday) Declaration of Melaka as a Historical City (Melaka only)
24 April 2020 (Friday) Awal Ramadan (Johor, Kedah & Melaka only)
26 April 2020 (Sunday) Sultan of Terengganu’s Birthday (Terengganu only)
26 April 2020 (Sunday) Awal Ramadan Holiday (Johor & Kedah only)
1 May 2020 (Friday) Labour Day
3 May 2020 (Sunday) Labour Day Holiday Johor & Kedah
7 May 2020 (Thursday) Wesak Day
10 May 2020 (Sunday) Nuzul Al-Quran (except Johor, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah & Sarawak)
11 May 2020 (Monday) Nuzul Al-Quran Holiday (Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Putrajaya & Selangor only)
22 May 2020 (Friday) Hari Hol Pahang Pahang
24 & 25 May 2020 (Sunday & Monday) Hari Raya Aidilfitri
26 May 2020 (Tuesday) Hari Raya Aidilfitri (except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu)
30 & 31 May 2020 (Saturday & Sunday) Harvest Festival (Labuan & Sabah only)
1 June 2020 (Monday) Hari Gawai (Sarawak only)
1 June 2020 (Monday) Harvest Festival Holiday (Labuan & Sabah only)
2 June 2020 (Tuesday) Hari Gawai Holiday (Sarawak only)
8 June 2020 (Monday) Agong’s Birthday
21 June 2020 (Sunday) Sultan of Kedah’s Birthday (Kedah only)
7 July 2020 (Tuesday) Georgetown World Heritage City Day (Penang only)
11 July 2020 (Saturday) Penang Governor’s Birthday (Penang only)
17 July 2020 (Friday) Raja Perlis’ Birthday (Perlis only)
22 July 2020 (Wednesday) Sarawak Day (Sarawak only)
30 July 2020 (Thursday) Sultan of Pahang’s Birthday (Pahang only)
30 July 2020 (Thursday) Arafat Day (Terengganu only)
31 July 2020 (Friday) Hari Raya Haji
1 August 2020 (Saturday) Hari Raya Haji Holiday (Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Terengganu only)
2 August 2020 (Sunday) Hari Raya Haji Holiday (Kelantan & Terengganu only)
20 August 2020 (Thursday) Awal Muharram
31 August 2020 (Monday) Merdeka Day
16 September 2020 (Wednesday) Malaysia Day
24 September 2020 (Thursday) Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar (Johor only)
3 October 2020 (Saturday) Sabah Governor’s Birthday (Sabah only)
9 October 2020 (Friday) Melaka Governor’s Birthday (Melaka only)
10 October 2020 (Saturday) Sarawak Governor’s Birthday (Sarawak only)
29 October 2020 (Thursday) Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
6 November 2020 (Friday) Sultan of Perak’s Birthday (Perak only)
11 & 12 November 2020 (Wednesday & Thursday) Sultan of Kelantan’s Birthday Holiday (Kelantan only)
14 November 2020 (Saturday) Deepavali (except Sarawak)
15 November 2020 (Sunday) Deepavali Holiday (Kelantan & Terengganu only)
11 December 2020 (Friday) Sultan of Selangor’s Birthday (Selangor only)
25 December 2020 (Friday) Christmas Day
27 December 2020 (Sunday) Christmas Holiday (Johor & Kedah only)
Interestingly enough, Terengganu and Kelantan get one day off for the Chinese New Year, while other states get two days. On the other hand, both these states get two days off for Hari Raya Haji, but other states are just one. But the list of public holidays does not end here. There are some state-level holidays that are also accounted for as public holidays in respective states.
State-Level Public Holidays in Malaysia
Public holidays in Malaysia come under two categories that are state level and national. National public holidays are observed by almost all private and government organizations throughout Malaysia. State-level holidays are primarily observed by certain states or only in case the holiday relates to a state as per Section 9(1) listed in the Holiday Act of Malaysia.
For example, Kuala Lumpur which is the national capital of Malaysia has a special holiday called the Federal Territory Day on the first of February each year, to represent the formation of its territory back in the year 1974 as it was part of the state of Selangor prior to that.
Private Sector Holidays
Employees working private firms get 11 days off including 5 compulsory and 6 elective holidays. Under Section-60D enlisted in the Employment Act for the Employers, employees are entitled to receive 11 gazetted public holidays along with appointed public holidays under Section 8 of the Holiday Act. In other words, employers may or may not observe the state level holidays without any strict ruling.
According to Section-60D, every employer must enlist the 11 gazetted public holidays entitled to their employees at the commencement of every calendar year. Five of these compulsory holidays include National Day, Malaysia Day, Worker’s Day, Yang-Di Pertuan Agong’s birthday, and Ruler Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s birthday. Employers can then choose to observe the remaining 6 holidays to complete the list of 11 days.
Employers can also request to have their employees to be present at work on holidays such as Deepavali, Hari Raya Aidifiltri, or Chinese New Year. Any of the days that are not listed in the 11 pre-listed gazetted public holidays is observed as a regular working day confirming the presence of all employees.
As a side note, Federal Territory Day is always observed as a holiday in the territory of Labuan, Putrajaya, and Kuala Lumpur. Other states will observe the birthday of their ruler, Yang di-Pertua Negeri as a state-level holiday.
Ad Hoc Holidays Declared by Malaysian Ministers
In some cases, the prime minister can declare any day as a one-off public holiday in accordance with Section 8 under the Holiday Act. For example, then prime minister Najib Razak announced 4th September 2017 to be declared as a public holiday to appreciate the outstanding achievement by the Malaysian contingent in the 29th SEA games held in Kuala Lumpur. The holiday is a national holiday and must observed by all private and public sectors in Malaysia.
Can Employers Make Employees Work on a Public Holiday?
According to Section 60 of the Employment Act, employers may ask employees to work on a public holiday. In that case, employers will have to pay for two days of wages according to the current rate of pay. Section-60D 3(b) also states that employees working on a holiday is also required to receive a traveling allowance for the day payable under their terms of agreement but no allowance for any food or housing.
An employer can be fined as per Section 99A under the Employment Act in case a leave is not granted. In other words, all the private and government offices must comply with the public holidays to display a sign of respect. In addition, employees can ask for a replacement day if the holiday isn’t granted. As per the Section-60D (1A) of the Employment Act, employers can grant any other day as a holiday to substitute a declared public holiday in case they are working on that day for any reason.