Employment of Children and Young Person

Have you ever come across a child or young person working in a family-run business? If you have, you are not alone. In such a scenario, have you ever wondered if they can be legally employed in the first place? While it is a common perception that a child or young person cannot be legally employed. This perceived “child labour” is usually frowned upon by society, but the reality is that children or young persons can actually be legally employed, subject to the relevant governing laws and regulations. In this article, we will briefly explore the realms of child employment in Malaysia.

The restrictions of child employment in Malaysia:

In Malaysia, such employment is governed by the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act[1] (‘the Act’). Specifically, Section 2(1) of the Act lays down 3 elements that an employer needs to fulfill before a child or young person can be employed.

Children

Young Person

  1. Must be at least 15 years of age[2].
  1. Must be at least 19 years of age[3].
  1. He cannot be employed in any hazardous works[4].
  1. He cannot be employed under any circumstances save for those employment specified in Section 2 (2) of the Act, namely:
    1. Employment involving light work that he is able to perform in his family-run businesses[5];
    2. Employment in the public entertainment industry; however, subject to the terms and conditions of the license granted by the Act[6];
    3. Perform work approved or sponsored by Federal Government/ State Government and carried on in any school, training institution/ training vessel[7]; or
    4. Employment as an apprentice under an apprenticeship contract approved by Director-General[8].
  1. He cannot be employed under any circumstances save for those employment specified in Section 2 (3) of the Act, namely;
    1. Any employment mentioned above, and in relation to the first exception above, he can be employed regardless of whether or not it is his family-run business[9];
    2. Employment as a domestic servant[10];
    3. Working in any office, shops, godowns, factories, worships, stores, boarding houses, theatres, cinemas, clubs or associations[11];
    4. Employment in any industrial sector suitable to his capacity[12]; or
    5. Employment on any vessel under the personal charge of his parents and guardians[13].

Working hours and rest period:

Children

Young Person

  1. Cannot work between 8 pm and 7 am unless they are employed in the public entertainment industries[14].
  1. Cannot work between 8 pm and 6 am unless they are employed in the public entertainment industries[15].
  1. Can’t work for more than 3 consecutive hours without at least 30 minutes of rest[16].
  1. Can’t work for more than 4 consecutive hours without at least 30 minutes of rest[17].
  1. Cannot work for more than 6 hours a day[18].
  1. Cannot work for more than 7 hours a day, unless the young person is an apprentice under Section 2 (2)(d), in which case he cannot work for more than 8 hours a day[19].
  1. If he is attending school, the combined time he spends in school and employment must not exceed 7 hours[20].
  1. If he is attending school, the combined time he spends in school and employment must not exceed 8 hours[21].
  1. Must have 14 consecutive hours free from work before re-commencing his work[22].
  1. Must have 14 consecutive hours free from work before re-commencing his work[23].

Other terms and condition:

Terms and Conditions

Remarks

Employment of a female young personNo female young person can be employed in any hotels, bars, restaurants, boarding houses or clubs unless[24]:

  1. The establishment is under the management or control of her parent/ guardian; or
  2. The Director-General must approve of the employment in the event the establishment is not under the management or control of her parent/ guardian.
Definition of hazardous workWork that is deemed and classified as hazardous by a competent authority on safety and healthy determined by the Minister in charge of labour[25].
Further prohibitionsThe Minister in charge of labour has the discretion to prohibit any child or young person from being employed in any employments mentioned above if he deems that such employment will be detrimental to the interest of the child or young person[26].
Penalties for contravening the provisions of the Act
  1. First offense – Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or fine not exceeding RM5,000.00 or both.
  2. Subsequent offense – Imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or fine not exceeding RM10,000.00 or both.

Do note that the Dewan Rakyat has recently passed an amendment to the Act to increase the penalties if a person is found contravening the provisions of the Act[27]. The Act is not yet in force.

 


1. 1996.
2. Section 1A (1), Children and Young persons (Employment) Act 1966.
3. Ibid.
4. Section 2 (2)(a),Ibid.
5. Section 2 (2)(a), Ibid.
6. Section 2 (2)(b), Ibid.
7. Section 2 (2)(c), Ibid.
8. Section 2 (2)(d), Ibid.
9. Section 2 (3)(a), Ibid.
10. Section 2 (3)(b), Ibid.
11. Section 2 (3)(c), Ibid.
12. Section 2 (3)(d), Children and Young persons (Employment) Act 1966.
13. Section 2 (3)(e), Ibid.
14. Section 5 (1)(a), Ibid.
15. Section 6 (1)(a), Ibid.
16. Section 5 (1)(b), Ibid.
17. Section 6 (1)(b), Ibid.
18. Section 5 (1)(c), Ibid.
19. Section 6 (1)(c),Ibid.
20. Section 5 (1)(c), Children and Young persons (Employment) Act 1966.
21. Section 6 (1)(c), Ibid.
22. Section 5 (1)(d), Ibid.
23. Section 6 (1)(d), Ibid.
24. Section 2 (3), Ibid.
25. Section 2 (6), Ibid.
26. Section 3, Children and Young persons (Employment) Act 1966.
27. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/17/stiffer-penalties-for-those-who-exploit-child-labour/

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