Shift Working Hours in Malaysia: Guidelines and Useful Tips

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Shift working hours in Malaysia play a vital role in various industries, helping organisations operate around the clock and meet the demands of a 24/7 global economy. As a nation that prides itself on its diverse workforce and thriving economy, Malaysia relies on shift work to maintain productivity and ensure continuous service provision.

In this article, we will explore the concept of shift working, the necessity of rotating shifts, the prevalent shift working hours in Malaysia, and essential tips for setting up an effective rotating shift schedule that promotes employee well-being and business success. Let’s get started!

What Does Shift Working Mean?

Shift working refers to a work schedule that deviates from the traditional nine-to-five model, allowing employees to work during different time periods, such as early mornings, evenings, nights, or weekends. Instead of adhering to a fixed schedule, shift workers rotate between different shifts to ensure seamless operations throughout the day.

This arrangement is especially prevalent in industries that require continuous monitoring, such as healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, hospitality, and customer service.

Why is a Rotating Shift Required?

A rotating shift system becomes necessary due to the nature of certain industries that demand continuous functioning. By adopting a rotating shift schedule, companies can maintain 24-hour operations and increase productivity, effectively utilising their resources and maximising output.

Moreover, rotating shifts help distribute the workload more evenly among employees, preventing fatigue and burnout associated with long, monotonous working hours.

Read more: Understanding Manpower Planning and Its Importance in F&B

Shift Working Hours in Malaysia

Shift working hours in Malaysia are regulated by the Employment Act (EA) of 1955. Before January 1, 2023, both non-shift and shift employees were allowed to work up to 48 hours per week. However, in a move to promote employee well-being, the maximum working hours per week for all employees under the EA 1955 were reduced to 45 hours starting from January 1, 2023.

This reduction applies to both non-shift and shift employees, ensuring a healthier work-life balance for all. Moreover, the EA 1955 allows flexibility in scheduling, permitting employers and employees to agree on work arrangements where certain days may have fewer than 8 hours of work.

This arrangement allows for a more adaptable schedule while still ensuring that no employee works more than 9 hours in a single day or exceeds 45 hours in a week.

The changes in shift working hours aim to enhance workplace productivity and employee satisfaction. By adhering to the prescribed limits and fostering open communication between employers and employees, organisations can create a conducive working environment that benefits everyone involved.

Read more: Understanding Employee Management System and Its Benefits

How to Set Up a Rotating Shift?

Creating an effective rotating shift schedule is crucial for ensuring smooth operations and employee satisfaction. One popular rotating shift schedule is known as the “2-2 3-2 2-3” schedule, which provides a balanced distribution of working days and time off. Let’s delve into the steps to set up this rotating shift:

1. Divide Employees into Four Teams

Start by grouping your employees into four teams based on the skills required for your operation. Ensure each team can handle all the necessary tasks. For example, in a restaurant setting, you may have two cooks, two food runners, four servers, one bartender, and one host per shift, totalling ten employees.

2. Assign Teams to Rotate Shift Schedules

The “2-2 3-2 2-3” rotating shift schedule spans over a two-week rotation. Each team will work a specific shift for two weeks before switching to the next. To ensure fairness and balance, rotate the teams through all four shifts every few weeks. Here’s an example of how the schedule might look:


The letters represent the shift type: D for Day Shift, N for Night Shift, and O for Off.

This rotating schedule ensures that all employees experience the same pattern of days, nights, and time off, but they start at different points in the rotation to cover all days and times effectively.

Read more:8 Staff Schedule Management Tips for Business Owners

Tips for Rotating Shifts

Rotating shifts can present unique challenges for both employers and employees. However, with careful planning and consideration, it is possible to create a successful and efficient rotating shift schedule. Here are five essential tips to help you navigate the process:

1. Involve Employees in the Scheduling Process

Include your employees in the shift scheduling process as much as possible. Seek their input on shift preferences, availability, and any personal commitments they may have. By involving them in decision-making, you foster a sense of ownership and increase their job satisfaction, leading to a more motivated and engaged workforce.

2. Provide Adequate Rest Periods

Ensure that employees have sufficient time to rest and recover between rotating shifts, especially when transitioning from night to morning shifts or vice versa. Scheduling too many consecutive shifts without adequate rest can lead to fatigue, decreased productivity, and potential health issues. Balance the workload to prevent burnout and promote employee well-being.

3. Offer Training and Support

Rotating shifts may require employees to adjust to different work hours and responsibilities regularly. Providing training and support to help them adapt to changing schedules and new tasks is crucial for their success. Adequate training will also ensure that all employees are competent in various roles, reducing disruptions during shift transitions.

Read more: 15 Employee Engagement Activities to Keep Them Motivated

4. Consider Circadian Rhythms

Take into account employees’ circadian rhythms, which influence their natural sleep-wake cycles. Some individuals may adapt better to certain shifts based on their internal body clock. Whenever possible, align employee preferences with shifts that align with their circadian rhythms to improve overall performance and well-being.

5. Maintain Open Communication

Establish clear channels of communication between management and employees. Encourage open dialogue to address concerns, feedback, and suggestions related to the rotating shift schedule. Regularly check in with your employees to monitor their well-being, ensure a positive work environment, and make any necessary adjustments to the schedule based on their feedback.

In conclusion, implementing an effective rotating shift schedule is essential for businesses in Malaysia, especially those that require continuous operations. By adhering to the reduced maximum working hours set by the Employment Act of 1955 and following the “2-2 3-2 2-3” rotating shift pattern, organisations can promote employee well-being, boost productivity, and maintain a motivated workforce.

To streamline your shift scheduling process and optimise employee management, consider leveraging modern solutions like StaffAny’s employee shift scheduling software. With its user-friendly interface and schedule templates, you can effortlessly create balanced and efficient rotating shift schedules.

Say goodbye to outdated tools and embrace the benefits of StaffAny’s best employee scheduling tool, saving time and money while ensuring seamless workforce management. Try StaffAny’s employee shift scheduling software today and revolutionise the way you handle your workforce!

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