Wednesday 29 May 2019
So you think you’re prepared to be an expat and work abroad? Photo: iStock

Malaysia’s labour laws are pretty basic. Most of us work from 9am to 6pm daily, all of us have to complete a probation period before being confirmed as permanent staff, and new mothers get decent time off during their maternity leave.

While we accept these fundamental rules as a norm, other countries practise unique laws that benefit their employees. Here are some labour laws around the world that will make you pretty jealous or feel thankful for the job you have now:


New mothers in Bulgaria have a lot to brag about. This Eastern European country allows them to go on paid maternity leave for a whopping 58.6 weeks. The pay rate is 78.4% of the mother’s previous full-time salary, which comes out to about 45.9 weeks off with full pay.


Travelling is a right and not a privilege, according to Belgium’s labour law. An employee can file for a ‘career break’ of up to one year. Career breaks make it easier for employees to pursue their passion, travel or just to get away from the hustle and bustle of work. The best part is that employees will still get paid and can secure their place in the company upon their return.

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Photo: iStock


Any men working in Isesaki, Japan, will need to be clean shaven, according to its municipal laws. In 2010, the local government banned employees from exhibiting any form of facial hair after members of the public allegedly complained about beards looking “unpleasant”.


One can quit their job in Italy without having to worry about the financial impact it will cause. The law requires employers to pay resigning or fired employees an end-of-employment payment called the TFR or Trattamento Di Fine Rapporto. It is equivalent to a month’s pay for every year of employment. But, companies with over 50 employees will channel the money to the employee’s pension fund.


Flexitime is a law that grants employees the freedom to manage their own working hours and days. They can use accumulated overtime hours to offset regular work hours. For instance, if you want to take Friday off, you can just work eight more hours from Monday to Thursday.

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Photo: iStock

Saudi Arabia.

In 2012 the Ministry of Labour enforced a royal decree that sales personnel in shops selling garments and other goods like cosmetics for women, must be female. This new law was implemented because women feel uncomfortable buying those products from men.


Companies with more than 100 employees aren’t allowed to fire people without government permission. The exception to this rule is if the employee was found guilty of criminal misconduct. This particular law was mooted during the period when the British ruled the region and has been largely left unchanged.


Let’s get physical? Not for women in China. The government prohibits them from performing jobs that are deemed as physically demanding. These jobs include mining, logging timber and high-altitude work that involves carrying anything more than 44 pounds.

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Photo: iStock


Women aren’t allowed to work at night unless it is at family-run businesses. Prohibited workplaces include charities and religious establishments.


It is highly unlikely for someone to lose their job in Portugal simply because it is illegal to fire an employee in the country. Employers are only allowed to offer attractive resignation benefits and hope the intended employee accepts it.

This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s May 2019 issue from the article WORK RULES AROUND THE WORLD.

Related: Nikky Azura and the Eternal Juggling Act of the Working Mother