Apparently we have a close/reopen tennis match with If my company can't make payroll on time, do I still have to work out my notice period?

It was reopened following edits but I'd like to understand how the following is not a legal question:

If my employer doesn't pay me on time, am I still bound by my notice period? Or does this constitute breach of contract which will allow me to dissolve the contract without notice period?

It's been discussed that questions of a legal nature that an HR pro can answer are on topic. But that's already been done by the OP when stated:

Malaysian employment law states that companies have to pay salaries no more than 7 days after the end of the month.

What the OP is asking is for an interpretation of the law. That's what lawyers do and only lawyers can do.

I'm a strong opponent of closing questions just because something has the word 'law' in it but in this case, the OP is actually asking us to give an interpretation of the law, not what the law says.

So convince me. How is that question on topic and why should it remain open?

  • 2
    It can't be anything other than a legal/regulation question.
    – user44108
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:36
  • 3
    It's a legal question that goes beyond layman's knowledge, even beyond an HR specialist's knowledge. Mar 1, 2017 at 15:43
  • Those questions at the end of the now edited post do sound like "tell me what the law says on this" to me, not "interpret this law for me". Someone familiar with Malaysian work practices can throw more light on it.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 1, 2017 at 16:36
  • 3
    This one was clearly off-topic / legal
    – Neo
    Mar 1, 2017 at 17:35
  • 1
    Even looking up the law for someone seems potentially off-topic
    – user30031
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:58
  • 1
    "I'm a strong opponent of closing questions just because something has the word 'law' in it but in this case, the OP is actually asking us to give an interpretation of the law, not what the law says." - agreed. We have very squishy definitions regarding "off-topic due to legal" IMHO. Mar 2, 2017 at 1:23
  • well technically if they don't pay you the employer has "frustrated" the contract and you are no longer employed Mar 5, 2017 at 15:28
  • Could we just mark these questions as above our pay grade (i.e., off-topic for legal reasons) without closing them, per se? Or close being able to answer them, but without deleting the questions themselves, again, with a disclaimer about how these sorts of questions should not be answered by us. Mar 13, 2017 at 11:35

3 Answers 3


My view is based on What criteria do we need for questions regarding the law/regulations to be allowed? which I still think reflects our community consensus. Quoting from there:

If a workplace expert (manager, HR, etc.) would be expected to know the information, then it is okay to ask.

At least under UK law (I know the question is about Malaysian law), this question would go well beyond that bar - a contract isn't necessarily null and void in its entirety just because one payment is late, and working out which bits of it are and aren't still enforceable is definitely a question for a lawyer. As such, I think it's off-topic.

That said, I don't think it would take that much to make it on-topic, for the reason specified in Kaz's answer: if there ain't no money, there ain't gonna be a company for much longer, and if there ain't no company, nobody's going to be suing. We've given the "if you aren't being paid, find another job ASAP" advice plenty of times on plenty of other questions - and that's probably the issue the poster should be worrying about, not the fine points of contract law.


I'm going to argue on-topic, but for the same reason that Philip Kendall says it's off-topic. HR typically needs to have a reasonable understanding of local labor law, e.g. to figure out when someone can start after leaving another company. Also, government in general takes an interest in the exact end of labor contracts, and it's HR's role to provide that information.

So, a company HR department will tend to know these areas of law. That said, while we expect a Malaysian HR expert to know it, not all readers of this site are Malaysian.

  • Any HR's department's position on this issue is always going to be "we expect you to honour your notice period"; you're never going to get an answer out of HR which says "please screw the company over, thanks". Mar 1, 2017 at 22:04
  • 1
    @PhilipKendall: When speaking to their own employees. But this is Meta; the question is whether HR staff of another Malaysian company could answer it.
    – MSalters
    Mar 1, 2017 at 22:08
  • Even if that were the case, would that just make this an "ask your HR department" question?
    – user30031
    Mar 1, 2017 at 23:00
  • @user30031: Well, Phillip does have a point; your own HR department is unlikely to give a fair answer (if at all - they too may have left)
    – MSalters
    Mar 2, 2017 at 7:46
  • Not all readers of this site are American either, so let us close all questions pertaining to US law as well. Or actually, let us take that a step further and close all questions because not all readers come from a single country.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 2, 2017 at 12:02
  • 1
    @MaskedMan: I don't get who you're addressing. I'm the only one who brought up a country here, but I'm not in favor of closing. Did you want to comment on Phillip's answer?
    – MSalters
    Mar 2, 2017 at 12:10
  • 1
    I am not focused on the "closing" part of it, but specifically responding to your point about "not all readers are Malaysian". That is not even relevant to your answer, or to anything else. You could have as well appended "the sky is blue" to your answer, and the response would be the same, "yeah, so? how does that matter?"
    – Masked Man
    Mar 2, 2017 at 12:24
  • We generally do close questions pertaining solely to US law. No need to it to that level.
    – user30031
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:44
  • I also don't quite understand why it'd be relevant to the closing/not closing of the question that this is a region specific question as many questions are.
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 23:05
  • I agree with this assessment and it's what I was getting at in my comment on the question. Someone in HR should know, in general terms, what kind of infractions can lead to someone considering their employment contract void. Now, since we seem to be lacking an expert on Malaysian law we can't rightly state if such a general answer is possible or not. We've had some UK-based questions for instance that would be impossible to answer for the US but where official .gov sites clearly outline the general process. The OP's HR department doesn't have anything to do with this though.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Mar 4, 2017 at 20:18

I see many questions closed because they touch on aspects of law, even though there are many helpful answers which stop short of legal advice. The answers often aren't obvious until they're posted, so I'd argue we should be slow to close these.

If there are many well-reasoned, helpful answers to a question and only one is 'get a lawyer', and the others refrain from giving legal advice, then to me, that's an acceptable question.

However, in this case, although there are answers that helpfully invite the poster to consider the likelihood of a company in dire financial straits being able to sue or withhold money, these too are straying into advice which depends on an estimation of legal ramifications, rather than verifiable facts.

I think in this situation all plausibly good answers will ask the OP to get a professional and all current answers would benefit from a 'but ask someone qualified' clause.

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