Tomorrow is a public holiday! I believe everyone still has to get all the tasks and works done though it’s a holiday, just the fact that I can escape from the crazy traffic for one day, I’m totally grateful. I assumed many people feel the same. While getting a day off from your workplace, let’s spend few minutes to understand why and how we celebrate Labour Day!
What is Labour Day?
Labour Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.
For most countries, including Malaysia, Labour Day falls on 1st of May every year. In some other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country. Labour Day is a public holiday in many countries, however, there are also some countries that don’t have a holiday for it although the Labour Day is recognized.
The Eight-hour Day Movement
Do you know? After the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life, the working day could range from 10 to 16 hours, and the work week was typically six days a week.
During that part of the time, the factories workers made up the major workforce in the whole world. These were the people who performed every single task in the production lines. However, they were getting very minimal paid and being pushed to work for long hours. Therefore, to regulate the length of a working day, the eight-hour day movement a.k.a. the short-time movement was a social movement that aimed to prevent excesses and abuses.
The ‘Eight-hour Day Movement’ has a huge impact on the working cultures around the world since then. Although many companies and corporates still operate more than 8 hours per day, most countries practice law and policies that ensure employees are compensated with allowances when they work extra hours.
Labour Law’s Protection
In Malaysia, we are protected by the Labour Law. Please be noted, according to the Employment Act 1955, ‘employees’ are individuals whose monthly wages are less than RM2,000 and those who are employed in manual work such as artisans, transport operators, supervisors, and domestic workers too are classified as employees even if their wages are above RM2,000.
Therefore, you’re only fully protected by the Labour Law is you earn less than RM1,500. If you fall within the RM1,500 to RM5,000 then you are only partially protected but are given assistance by the Labour Office to enforce your contract of service. However, if you earn RM5,000 and above, then you have to be extra careful when signing an employment contract.
Working Hours in Malaysia
According to our Labour Law, an employee is not required to work under his contract of service:
– For more than five consecutive hours without a period of leisure of not less than 30 minutes.
– For more than eight hours in one day.
– For more than 48 hours in one week.
– In excess of a spread over a period of 10 hours in one day.
The Over Time Compensation
When an employee is required to work outside the working hours, the employee is entitled to be paid a rate of no less than 1.5 of their hourly salary if they work on normal working days. If it’s supposed to be a rest day, then the employer must compensate employees with two times the hourly rate of pay. During public holidays, an employee is entitled to be paid three times the hourly rate of pay while working.
In some companies, they compensate employees for overtime by giving leave replacement. Meaning to say, if an employee worked during his/her rest day, he/she can claim a leave day under circumstances.
Why is Labour Law Important?
The Labour Law is designed to protect workers’ rights. The world certainly has changed a lot, it’s no longer the same as the time when people were fighting for the 8-hour day. We are receiving higher education. Hence, we are more aware of our human rights. However, there are still a lot of people that need protection.
Look at the smartphone on your hand. The smartphone is one of the significant elements of this era. We know who invented and sold smartphones to us, what we don’t normally see is the people who work in production lines days and nights to produce the phones.
Many of us often forget, there are still a lot of people who work in factories and construction sites. They are exposed to heavy duties and dangers every day. Could you imagine what will happen if they are not protected by law?
The irony is, while most office workers enjoying our day-off for tomorrow, many of the manual workers are almost impossible to enjoy the public holiday. Therefore, it is very important to make sure they are being compensated accordingly.
How Should We Celebrate the Labour Day?
Like for every other holiday, you should take a good rest and do things that will make you happy. If you’re going to shop or planning to dine out, remember to wish the promoters and waiters who are still working with greetings like “Hope your business booming!” and thank them for their services.
If you are on duty for tomorrow, thank you for your contribution towards the economy. You’re great 😊