Beginning July 1 2016, a new minimum wage rule was imposed by the Malaysian government, called The Minimum Wages Order 2016 (MWO 2016). Whether it’s construction jobs or F&B services, all employees working in the private sector would be involved, with the exception of maids (domestic helpers).
According to Datuk Seri Richard Riot, Human Resources Minister, the minimum wages vary according to region. For Peninsular Malaysia, the minimum wages were set at RM4.81 per hour or RM1, 000 per month. For those working in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, their minimum wages were set at RM4.42 per hour or RM920 per month.
The daily minimum wage rate depends on a maximum of six-day working week (48 hours per week). Based on this, the daily minimum wage rate will be RM38.46, RM 46.15 for five days a week, and RM57.69 for four days a week in the Peninsular.
In Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, the daily minimum wage rate for a six-day working week is RM35.38, RM42.46 for five days a week, and RM53.08 for four days a week.
The minister also said that the monthly salary should not be less than RM1, 000 in the Peninsular Malaysia, and RM 920 in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan if the workers were paid on a commission, trip, tonnage or piecework basis.
What kind of jobs are minimum wages here? These are 5 most common types of minimum wage jobs you can find in Malaysia:
- Construction jobs (construction workers)
At extraction and construction sites, the lowest paid workers are normally day labourers and helpers. Because construction jobs require them to perform dangerous tasks which may involve things like explosives or scaffolds and exposes them to hazardous material (in addition to the job being low-paying), most of these construction workers are foreigners, with majority of nationalities include Indonesian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and Burmese. The typical hourly rate for these labourers ranges from RM3.00 to RM5.00. To make matters worse, these workers are often denied benefits and compensation.
- Travel and hospitality jobs (cleaners and housekeepers)
Behind the beautifully made up bed lies a dark truth. Cleaners and housekeepers often make ends meet, barely earning over RM1, 000. Some hotel-chain maids are considered lucky to be earning a basic wage of RM900, plus other benefits (with the possibility to earn tips). Unfortunately for those working in bargain hotels and motels, they often earn less than that amount, with no benefit or tips.
- F&B jobs (fast food workers, kitchen helpers, waiters/waitresses)
While you’re hungry waiting in line for that burger, your fast food server may be living and surviving on near-starvation wages. The typical income ranges from RM4 to RM7 an hour for non-managerial positions, with minimal benefits. Many of these servers work to support their children, and a lot of them could barely afford healthcare or other basic necessities for survival.
- Retail jobs (sales associates, cashiers)
Those working in the retail industry not only have to deal with fussy and difficult customers, they’d also have to make do with the minimum wages they earn. A typical hourly rate for non-managerial positions such as sales associates and cashiers range from RM5 to RM8 per hour (those who work at designer boutiques may be lucky enough to earn more and receive benefits and tips). These jobs may require you to have decent or good Math skills.
- Other service jobs (petrol station attendants, security guards)
Service jobs such as petrol station attendants and security guards normally have a typical hourly rate that ranges from RM4.50 to RM7, with minimal to no benefits. While most petrol station attendants are local folks, security companies tend to hire foreigners as security guards. Often these security companies are unregulated, which results in safety issues and irregularities in payment.
All of the minimum wages jobs mentioned require no tertiary education background (as most companies prefer those with PMR or SPM-level education).
Wages may vary depending on companies (some may pay more or less), but every registered employer should follow the MWO 2016. As a rule of thumb, you have every right to question your employer whether they’re adhering to the new order. If they didn’t, you may lodge a report to a worker’s union.