Understanding payroll in Malaysia

Understanding payroll in Malaysia
24 Jul 2018

Malaysia has a thriving economy, which has grown at an annual rate of around 6.5% over the last half century. It consists of two land masses separated by the South China Sea and counts Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as its neighbours.

This location means that it acts as an important gateway to the rest of South East Asia, but the country is also rich in natural resources such as tin, rubber and palm oil. It likewise boasts a sound high-tech, communications and transport infrastructure, which includes excellent air and sea links. As a result, investment levels have steadily been increasing here and the government is now pushing to transform the country into a major financial hub.

Malaysia’s current population stands at 32,046,554 as of June 2018. Some of the main reasons to invest in the country include:

Financial incentives: The Malaysian government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage foreign direct investment, which include setting up the Malaysian Investment Development Authority  and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation or MATRADE, which help companies set up and find new markets.

Business opportunities: The country offers businesses opportunities across a range of key sectors such as banking, technology and pharmaceutical.

Location: Malaysia’s location at the heart of Southeast Asia makes it easy to for local companies to access a range of valuable markets, which have a consumer base of more than 600 million people. Around 5,000 companies from over 40 countries have established a presence here.

Skilled workforce: Some 20,000 graduates enter the Malaysian labour market each year. The workforce tends to be young and highly-skilled, with a particular focus on the research and manufacturing sectors. Workers also usually have a strong grasp of English.

When hiring, employers are required to register to pay tax and contribute to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Fund and Human Resources Development Fund, if applicable. They must also register with the Social Security Organization (SOCSO or Perkeso) within 30 days of a new employee starting work. If they are the principal employer and have one or more employees working for them at any one time, they must contribute to SOCSO on a monthly basis.

Payroll: Payroll processing normally takes place on a monthly basis. Although the length of time it takes to introduce a new payroll system will vary depending on the complexity of requirements and the headcount involved, it typically takes about two months, which includes a one-month parallel run.

There is currently no specific data protection legislation with regards to payroll information in Malaysia. For the time being, companies with a payroll function in the country - whether in-house or outsourced - rely on internal or external company policies to ensure data protection principles are upheld.

The standard payroll process in Malaysia is based on the following steps:

  • Pay day: Payments must be made by the 7th of each month to an individual’s bank account using cash, cheques or credit;
  • Calculating salary: This figure includes overtime, sick pay and the like;
  • Issuing payslips: They may be distributed in paper form or electronically;
  • Paying statutory contributions/deductions such as the EPF, SOCSO, etc;
  • Remitting payment to the authorities: It is vital to know both deadlines and possible payment methods.

As for administering payroll, professionals should take the following points into account:

Mandatory benefits: These include paid annual leave, statutory holidays, maternity and medical leave as well as benefits for termination or unemployment;

Optional benefits: They may include payment for long service, housing and transport allowances, medical insurance schemes, commission and bonuses and any retirement or pension schemes;

Statutory contributions: Both employers and employees make statutory social security contributions to the EPF retirement and SOCSO social security scheme. Employees may also be required to make PTPTN repayments (Malaysia’s student funding scheme) or Zakat  donations (Muslim employees only);

Scheduler tax deduction: Monthly tax deductions are governed by the STD mechanism, which reduces the need for employees to pay tax in a single lump sum;

Payslips: On being paid, all employees in Malaysia should be issued with a payslip, which is meant to include such information as wages earned and deductions made;

Employee records: Employers must maintain an employee register and include relevant payroll information for each staff member.

Tax: Employers are also expected to withhold their employees’ monthly tax contributions at rates ranging from 0%-28% depending on salary amount. The complexity of Malaysia’s tax regulations means it may be advisable for foreign businesses to outsource their payroll administration to a global payroll provider.

Employment Insurance System: While Malaysia’s unemployment rate is relatively low and stable, the government introduced an Employment Insurance System (EIS) in 2018 as protection for workers who were made redundant or resigned due to negative behaviour, which includes sexual harassment, and have no other income coming in. It is meant to act as a contingency fund for six months to help them and their dependents (if they have any) get back on their feet.

The scheme, which is managed by SOCSO, will come into force in 2019. It will function in a similar fashion to the EPF, which means that contributions will go into a pooled fund, which is then invested. Employers and employees will each be expected to contribute 0.2% of the staff member’s monthly salary, bringing the total contribution to 0.4%.

The minimum monthly salary may be as low as MYR300 (US$74), which would mean the total employer/employee contribution was MYR1.20 (US$0.30) each month. On the other hand, the maximum monthly salary is capped at MYR4,000 (US$984). In other words, even if an individual earns more than MYR4,000, the maximum contribution amount each month is limited to MYR16.

The scheme is currently expected to cover 430,000 employers and 6.6 million employees.

  Manish Mehta

Manish Mehta is co-founder and business director of Propay Partners, where he heads the design, compliance and HR outsourcing solutions wing. With more than 20 years of experience in the BPO industry, Manish is a well-established HR outsourcing expert within the ASEAN region. He holds a degree from the National University of Malaysia, where he specialised in in Business Administration.

 

MORE ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Malaysia to introduce sector-based minimum wage

Tax changes and strengthening economy expected to double Malaysia's growth rate

Individual income tax in Malaysia for expats

 

 

Malaysia has a thriving economy, which has grown at an annual rate of around 6.5% over the last half century. It consists of two land masses separated by the South China Sea and counts Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as its neighbours.

This location means that it acts as an important gateway to the rest of South East Asia, but the country is also rich in natural resources such as tin, rubber and palm oil. It likewise boasts a sound high-tech, communications and transport infrastructure, which includes excellent air and sea links. As a result, investment levels have steadily been increasing here and the government is now pushing to transform the country into a major financial hub.

Malaysia’s current population stands at 32,046,554 as of June 2018. Some of the main reasons to invest in the country include:

Financial incentives: The Malaysian government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage foreign direct investment, which include setting up the Malaysian Investment Development Authority  and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation or MATRADE, which help companies set up and find new markets.

Business opportunities: The country offers businesses opportunities across a range of key sectors such as banking, technology and pharmaceutical.

Location: Malaysia’s location at the heart of Southeast Asia makes it easy to for local companies to access a range of valuable markets, which have a consumer base of more than 600 million people. Around 5,000 companies from over 40 countries have established a presence here.

Skilled workforce: Some 20,000 graduates enter the Malaysian labour market each year. The workforce tends to be young and highly-skilled, with a particular focus on the research and manufacturing sectors. Workers also usually have a strong grasp of English.

When hiring, employers are required to register to pay tax and contribute to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Fund and Human Resources Development Fund, if applicable. They must also register with the Social Security Organization (SOCSO or Perkeso) within 30 days of a new employee starting work. If they are the principal employer and have one or more employees working for them at any one time, they must contribute to SOCSO on a monthly basis.

Payroll: Payroll processing normally takes place on a monthly basis. Although the length of time it takes to introduce a new payroll system will vary depending on the complexity of requirements and the headcount involved, it typically takes about two months, which includes a one-month parallel run.

There is currently no specific data protection legislation with regards to payroll information in Malaysia. For the time being, companies with a payroll function in the country - whether in-house or outsourced - rely on internal or external company policies to ensure data protection principles are upheld.

The standard payroll process in Malaysia is based on the following steps:

  • Pay day: Payments must be made by the 7th of each month to an individual’s bank account using cash, cheques or credit;
  • Calculating salary: This figure includes overtime, sick pay and the like;
  • Issuing payslips: They may be distributed in paper form or electronically;
  • Paying statutory contributions/deductions such as the EPF, SOCSO, etc;
  • Remitting payment to the authorities: It is vital to know both deadlines and possible payment methods.

As for administering payroll, professionals should take the following points into account:

Mandatory benefits: These include paid annual leave, statutory holidays, maternity and medical leave as well as benefits for termination or unemployment;

Optional benefits: They may include payment for long service, housing and transport allowances, medical insurance schemes, commission and bonuses and any retirement or pension schemes;

Statutory contributions: Both employers and employees make statutory social security contributions to the EPF retirement and SOCSO social security scheme. Employees may also be required to make PTPTN repayments (Malaysia’s student funding scheme) or Zakat  donations (Muslim employees only);

Scheduler tax deduction: Monthly tax deductions are governed by the STD mechanism, which reduces the need for employees to pay tax in a single lump sum;

Payslips: On being paid, all employees in Malaysia should be issued with a payslip, which is meant to include such information as wages earned and deductions made;

Employee records: Employers must maintain an employee register and include relevant payroll information for each staff member.

Tax: Employers are also expected to withhold their employees’ monthly tax contributions at rates ranging from 0%-28% depending on salary amount. The complexity of Malaysia’s tax regulations means it may be advisable for foreign businesses to outsource their payroll administration to a global payroll provider.

Employment Insurance System: While Malaysia’s unemployment rate is relatively low and stable, the government introduced an Employment Insurance System (EIS) in 2018 as protection for workers who were made redundant or resigned due to negative behaviour, which includes sexual harassment, and have no other income coming in. It is meant to act as a contingency fund for six months to help them and their dependents (if they have any) get back on their feet.

The scheme, which is managed by SOCSO, will come into force in 2019. It will function in a similar fashion to the EPF, which means that contributions will go into a pooled fund, which is then invested. Employers and employees will each be expected to contribute 0.2% of the staff member’s monthly salary, bringing the total contribution to 0.4%.

The minimum monthly salary may be as low as MYR300 (US$74), which would mean the total employer/employee contribution was MYR1.20 (US$0.30) each month. On the other hand, the maximum monthly salary is capped at MYR4,000 (US$984). In other words, even if an individual earns more than MYR4,000, the maximum contribution amount each month is limited to MYR16.

The scheme is currently expected to cover 430,000 employers and 6.6 million employees.

  Manish Mehta

Manish Mehta is co-founder and business director of Propay Partners, where he heads the design, compliance and HR outsourcing solutions wing. With more than 20 years of experience in the BPO industry, Manish is a well-established HR outsourcing expert within the ASEAN region. He holds a degree from the National University of Malaysia, where he specialised in in Business Administration.

 

MORE ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Malaysia to introduce sector-based minimum wage

Tax changes and strengthening economy expected to double Malaysia's growth rate

Individual income tax in Malaysia for expats

 

 

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