A guide for compassionate and bereavement leave in Malaysia

DEALING with the loss of a loved one is never easy.

In addition to the profound emotional impact and the time required for grieving, many logistical arrangements need to be made, from organising or attending the funeral, to managing various legal procedures.

Compassionate leave, or bereavement leave, emerges as a crucial employment benefit, granting employees essential time off when a family member passes away.

In Malaysia, compassionate leave and bereavement leave are used interchangeably, referring to the same practice.

It can be paid or unpaid, depending on the terms outlined in the employment contract or detailed within the company's policy framework.


There is no statutory entitlement for compassionate leave under the Employment Act, which means companies are not legally required to provide compassionate or bereavement leave to employees.

Nonetheless, it is common practice for most companies to incorporate such clauses in employment contracts.

Even if compassionate leave is not mentioned in any documentation, employers may choose to grant it if requested by the employee.

Companies in Malaysia typically offer two to five days of paid compassionate leave, but it differs from employer to employer.

The number of days for compassionate leave may vary depending on the employee's relationship to the deceased family member, with longer periods given for immediate family members.

The death of distant relatives such as aunts, uncles and cousins, or friends, generally does not entitle employees to any compassionate leave.

As Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country, it is imperative to take into consideration the fact that different races and religions have varying practices, and as such, the duration of each funeral differs.

In certain cases, employers may refuse to grant such leaves.

If the employee cannot produce any proof of death, such as a death certificate, the employer has the right to deny their request for compassionate leave.

Alternatively, employees can choose to utilise their annual leave or take unpaid leave if their request for compassionate leave is rejected.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to provide compassionate leave to employees should consider drafting a policy to mandate compulsory compassionate leave.

Companies may view it as a form of investment into employees' personal well-being, as it serves to benefit both the company and employees in the long run.

The policy should include:
- Number of working days provided as leave
- The eligibility period of when the leave can be taken
- Whether it is paid or unpaid, with room for extension
- How an 'immediate family member' is defined (spouse, parents, siblings, etc)
- Documentation proof (e.g. a death certificate), if required

Some companies may also choose to provide more compassionate leave for longer-serving employees.

Other aspects to consider include delegating tasks of the absent employee and maintaining clear communications with the rest of the team who will be impacted.

For SMEs and human resources (HR) managers looking to implement or update their compassionate leave policy, Employment Hero is an all-in-one HR and payroll software with comprehensive features.

The HR team can send employment contracts and policies (like the compassionate leave policy) to employees digitally during their onboarding process, for fuss-free signing and acknowledgement.

This way, employees will be aware of their entitlements when it comes to dealing with such situations.

Leave management is also made easy with employee self-service. All employees can see their leave balances and submit requests electronically, be it for annual leave or compassionate leave.

The Employment Hero system automatically notifies management, who can view an individual's leave balance and team leave calendar, providing transparency into team movements.

All in all, tasks like applying for compassionate leave should be a hassle-free experience for employees, and Employment Hero delivers on that front.

Find out more about Employment Hero and all the HR features it offers today.

This article originally appeared on Employment Hero, with rights to be republished on the New Straits Times.

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