Work in Malaysia


Working in Malaysia is the dream of thousands of foreigners worldwide. If you are one of them, here is how to proceed to find a job there.

Malaysia is the dream land of thousands of professionals across the globe. But if you wish to work there, it is best to be aware of its labor market conditions. In fact, the country is very selective in terms of immigration. In short, priority is given to Malaysian nationals. But local or international companies operating across the country are required to justify the recruitment of foreigners in case vacancies are available for foreign expertise, regardless of the profession.

Therefore, the company has to obtain necessary approvals for the hiring of foreign nationals. But this situation is somehow encouraged by Malaysia's constantly developing economy and labor market.

Local contract

The recruitment of foreign workers in local contract can be an real asset for a Malaysian company in terms of cultural and intellectual diversity. Moreover, expatriates' academic and professional qualifications can be a plus for the company, especially if it is involved in the international market. Finally, recruiting a foreigner in a local contract does not cost much more than that of a Malaysian national.

Overall, it is a fact that foreign labor greatly contributes to the Malaysian economy in many fields.

Labor market

Malaysian companies wishing to hire foreign manpower have to meet specific conditions. For instance, the minimum wage should be set at 5,000 ringgits per month over a minimum of two years contract. Moreover, these companies can justify the recruitment of a foreigner by the following reasons:

  • the creation of a top management position
  • the creation of a middle management position with proof of professional experience and academic qualifications
  • technical expertise which is indispensable to society and the economy (proven by the foreign professional).

The standard profile to qualify for a local contract is as follows: you should have between 35 and 40 years of technical engineering training along with proven academic and professional qualifications. Professional experience on the Asian labor market is also sought by many local and international companies.

Many multinational companies such as Accenture, CIMB Group, Exxon Mobil, HSBC, KPMG, Maybank, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Public Bank Berhad, Schlumberger and Shell are very open to expatriates in Malaysia.

Promising sectors

Malaysia's economy relies mainly on international trade and manufacturing. In fact, the secondary sector consists of the biggest share of employees as Malaysia is one of the world's main electrical and electronic equipment exporters. Information and communication technology, science industry and tourism also provide many jobs for foreigners.

 Good to know:

In 2014, 47% of the Malaysian workforce was employed in the service sector, while 41% was involved in different industries and 12% in agriculture.


Employers and prospective employees have to fill in a series of formalities so as to satisfy local authorities regarding the hiring of foreigners workers. The company is only responsible for the visa application but should also make sure that they are allowed to recruit foreign nationals.

First of all, the company will have to obtain the approval of the organization which is responsible of the sector in which it is involved. A list of these agencies and their fields of responsibility is available on the Malaysian Ministry of Immigration's website. Note that this approval is essential before proceeding further. Once this is done, you will have to request for a work permit from the Expatriates Committee.

However, exceptions also exist. These apply to foreign workers whose monthly income exceeds 8,000 ringgits. They are eligible to instant approval from the responsible agency.

Working conditions

As mentioned previously, the employment contract should specify a minimum salary of 5,000 ringgits for a foreign employee.

A legal working week consists of 48 hours, that is 9 working hours per day.

Overtime is paid one and a half times the regular rate. Working on Sunday is paid at a double rate and three times more on a public holiday.


Women are not allowed to work on night shifts.

You will be eligible to 8 paid local leaves before completing two years of employment. Between two and five years of service, you will be entitled to 12 days of paid leave. Once you have completed five years of employment, you will be eligible to 16 days of paid leave.

Pregnant women are eligible to a 60 days maternity leave. 30 days can be taken before delivery and the rest after. However, the employee must have been employed for at least 90 days before the 5th month of pregnancy and must not have more than five children.

Retirement age is fixed at 55 years for men and 50 years for women. However, early retirement is possible private sector.

Social security

The Malaysian social security system is based on two pillars: the EPF (Employees Provident Fund) and the social insurance system. The EPF runs two individual accounts per employee: the retirement and the disability compensation. As regards the social insurance system, it provides two programs, namely for work accidents and disability respectively.

Private sector employees automatically adhere to the EPF. The self-employed, domestic and foreign employees can opt for voluntary insurance. Finally, social insurance is mandatory for Malaysian employees until the age of 55 and to those whose income exceeds 3,000 ringgits.

You are required to make a monthly contribution of 11% to the EPF up to the age of 54 and 5.5% thereafter. The employer, for its part, will contribute 18%. As for the contribution to social insurance, it accounts for 0.5% of the employee's monthly salary as depending on his income category. Note that there are 24 categories: the first is set at a maximum of 30 ringgits, and the last to 3,000 ringgits. The employer also makes a 0.5% contribution to the social insurance.

Furthermore, companies are required to contribute to the SKHPPA, which is a special social insurance, so that foreign employees who are between 18 and 59 years old can be receive treatment in government hospitals for tune of a fixed sum each year.

 Useful links:

Department of Immigration – Applying for a job as a foreigner - Step 1
Step 2
Employees Provident Fund (EPF)
PERKESO - Social Security
Jobs Malaysia – Job offers in Malaysia 
Monster Malaysia
Jobs DB

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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
last year

What about working in telecom sector for expertized mid management level


See also

Ipoh's labor market is quite open to foreigners. However, technicians and engineers have more chances of being hired there.
Located near Singapore's borders, Johor Baharu is very welcoming to foreigners, especially tourists and highly qualified professionals.
Klang is deemed to be one of Malaysia's and the world's major and most active port cities. You shall definitely find a job there.
Seremban has a diverse labor market due to various economic activities which take place there. It provides many career prospects.
Many employment opportunities are available in Subang Jaya, one of Malaysia's biggest cities. It is above all known to be an industrial city.

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