Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia

Handbook of Research on Work–Life Balance in Asia

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Luo Lu and Cary Cooper

In Asian societies, work and family issues are only recently beginning to gain attention. The pressure of rapid social change and increasing global competition is compounded by the long hours work culture, especially in the Pan-Confucian societies such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Furthermore, with the rising female labor participation, more and more Asian employees are now caught between the demands of work and family life.

Chapter 11: Work–life balance policies in Malaysia: theory and practice

Noraini M. Noor and Nor Diana Mohd Mahudin

Subjects: asian studies, asian business, business and management, asia business, human resource management, organisational behaviour


In this chapter we examine work–life balance policies and initiatives in Malaysia. We begin by first considering the Employment Act (1955), the most important legislation that specifies the minimum working terms related to wages, working hours, leave, termination and lay-off benefits for employees in the country. Next, we discuss women’s employment and in the process of strengthening human resources, the work–life policies and practices that have been initiated to help them harmonize between their work and family. In reality, however, these work–life balance practices are sorely lacking, especially for those who most need them. We present data based on an exploratory study examining the availability and use of some of these work–life balance initiatives within a university setting in the country and discuss their implications on employees. Finally, taking into account current realities and employees’ needs for better work–life balance, we conclude with several suggestions. These include addressing cultural norms regarding gender roles; direct intervention by the state to change how work and family are perceived and to transfer care from the home to the public sector; and mandating public and private sectors to provide work–life policies within their organizations.

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