Can Your Boss Enforce Unpaid Leave After Overseas Travel? | The Full Frontal

Can Your Boss Enforce Unpaid Leave After Overseas Travel?

It’s finally happening! Well, it’s been happening slowly this year but still — it’s happening! We can travel again! And not just interstate travelling, oh no. I’m talking about travelling overseas. Aren’t you excited?!

But wait. What if there’s a slight problem stopping you from clicking that “Confirm Flight” button? Something that would make you think twice about planning an overseas trip?

What Do You Mean I Can’t Go On Holiday?

gif of a lady saying "Can't we just go on vacation?"
Don’t we deserve a vacation after all we’ve been through? Source from Tenor

Here’s a scenario for you — imagine you’ve been working hard these past few years, saving up your leave days because, hey, you work from home anyway, only to be told that you can’t vacation overseas because you won’t get paid once you get back. Since you have to quarantine yourself for 14 days at home or at a hotel, your company (for some reason) won’t allow you to work from home. 

How does that make you feel? I’d imagine you’d be confused and a little livid, no?

My friend brought up this issue when she wanted to apply for leave at her company a few weeks ago. She had originally planned to go to the UK with her family since it’s almost the end of the year and my God, did she need a holiday after all she’s been through!

Her company told her that if she chose to go through with it, she would be forced to take a 14-day unpaid leave as they would require her to be physically in the office, even though she is very capable of working from home.

That Actually Happens?

cone of confusion
It just doesn’t make sense? Source from Chris Said

I didn’t think this was a real thing, at first. I wouldn’t have thought the option of working from home isn’t available once you get back from travelling overseas, be it for business or leisure. I just knew that you had to quarantine yourself when you arrived back, just in case you showed any symptoms within the 14 days.

Apparently (appallingly), some companies won’t let you go overseas because when you come back, and you’re in quarantine, you won’t be in the office. There are some companies that won’t accept a work-from-home alternative, so the employees are forced to take unpaid leaves. 

But the real question here is: how are you supposed to go to the office if you’re in quarantine? Why would I use up my leftover leave days and take unpaid leave to sit at home when I could still do work perfectly fine? 

Do you see the problem here? How does that make any sense?

I Can Still Work From Home, Right?


Didn’t we establish that we work fine at home as well? Source from The Star

I just think that if your job is something that can be done online, like being a businessman or a writer or even a teacher (although it’s a tad bit difficult but still doable), isn’t it kind of illogical that you’re not allowed to work from home, while you’re in quarantine if you’re well enough to do so? 

On 4 June 2020, now Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob stated that employers are not allowed to enforce unpaid leaves on their quarantined workers.

According to him, “The act (of forcing employers to take leaves or enforcing unpaid leaves) is not allowed. This is not as per guidelines issued by the National Security Council and the employers can’t simply make their own rules.”

And if there’s an issue regarding your employer not wanting to pay you, you can drop an email at

There are also laws mentioning that you would be allowed to work from home if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 after coming back from another country, assuming you feel okay enough to be working. Your employer isn’t allowed to force you into taking unpaid leaves or make you use up your annual leaves either. 

According to Azmi & Associates, “it is prohibited for the employer to consider the employee’s quarantine period as unpaid leave, as the employee is still entitled to receive his salary in full. The employer must also not deduct the number of days of quarantine from the employee’s annual leave.

“He must also be entitled to any and all benefits such as paid sick leave and hospitalisation benefits, regardless of if the employee is quarantined at home or in the hospital.”

Speaking of worker rights, we’ve listed down a few of them that you might not realise you have. It’s important to know your rights before starting a job at any company. That way, you’ll be well-informed on what you can do if anything unforeseen happens.

You Deserve That Holiday!

workaholic on vacation
You’ve worked so hard this year, haven’t you? Source from Peak Recruitment

On that note, go on and book that flight if that’s what you really want. If you’ve made sure to tie up loose ends before you go and you’ve thought about what would happen before and after your holiday, then go forth and book it! 

After all, you only live once, no? Take every opportunity you can to make the most of your time on Earth! 

If you’re looking for a place to go on vacation, why not take a trip next door? Did you hear that Singapore’s opening back its borders

Starting from 29 November 2021, Singapore is opening its doors to overseas travellers. But bear in mind that they’re only accepting people from air travel only at the moment. 

You know what that means. Universal Studios here I come! Oh and also, I’m excited to see my family members living in Singapore, of course (*whispers* But mostly Universal Studios).

Travel With Caution

With that said, don’t be too hasty! Since we’re still in a pandemic, here are some travel SOPs you need to take note of before you fly off anywhere:

1. You have to be fully vaccinated to travel, be it interstate or overseas.

2. Travellers are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test before they travel interstate. For overseas travel, it is mandatory and you are advised to check the travel requirements of the country you are flying to, as well as the airlines company for any additional requirements.

3. Upon returning from the trip, a swab test is required three days before, plus another test upon arriving in Malaysia, if you’re from overseas.

4. A mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in force and can be done at home for Malaysians with Pfizer/AstraZeneca/Sinovac/Moderna/Sinopharm vaccines and 28 days for Johnson&Johnson and Cansino.

Bonus Tip (if it still needs to be said): Keep your masks on, your sanitisers in your purse and pockets, and maintain a distance from the people around you.

New Beginnings

at KLIA looking at the flight schedule
We can finally live out our travelling dreams again! Source from New Straits Times

Here’s to new beginnings! Remember folks, you have to be vaccinated to have a good time! And take careful consideration when you’re travelling overseas, or even when it’s just interstate. Make sure you’re healthy and take care of your SOPs while you’re out having fun. 

And if you’re still iffy about the whole travelling overseas thing, worry not, here are some other island options you can go to that are right here in Malaysia Truly Asia:

5 Islands In Terengganu Every Beach-Lover Needs To Visit

Terengganu beaches
Imagine snorkelling in these waters… pure bliss. | Source