Minimum Wage vs. Living Wage: The Role of Earned Salary Access to Bridge the Gap

Minimum Wage vs Living Wage and Earned Salary Access
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editor’s Note: This piece is contributed by Jessica, founder of DapatGaji. She writes about what minimum wage and living wage is, the difference between both measures, and the impact it has on a person’s wellbeing. She shares current financial events and struggles faced by Malaysians and how earned salary access can be a stop-gap solution to alleviate their financial stress. 

DapatGaji is an earned salary access platform that Employers can use to provide their Employees on-demand access to their salary as they earn it. 


Do you want to live or just exist?

Jargons are a tricky thing because they can help convey meaning yet sometimes over complicate things. You’re going to see three of them in this article because of how commonly they’re used. Let’s get you introduced to two of them now. 

Minimum wage is the legal minimum amount employers are required to pay their employees so that they can afford basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. 

Living wage is minimum wage plus more. It means an employee is earning an income enough to afford an acceptable standard of living which includes participation in society, personal and family development, and freedom from severe financial stress. 

Using living wage as a benchmark instead of minimum wage would mean an individual is able to live a life worth living, beyond just existing.


Malaysia’s newly raised minimum wage is barely half of the living wage.

Minimum wage:
RM1,500 (recently increased in January 2023)
Living wage: RM3,3751

The living wage is double the minimum wage – that sounds bad…but how many employees are earning just the minimum wage?

The median gross household income was RM5,209 a month2 and a household is made up of an average of 3.8 individuals. Assuming it’s a pair of working adults, their income is around RM2,600 a person. That’s still 30% less than the living wage of a single adult. And don’t forget that they’ve got another 1.8 of a human depending on them!

1 Estimated for a single adult in 2023


There’s a gap. And that gap is getting bigger.

It’s no surprise then to read that 55% of Malaysians live paycheck-to-paycheck and are unable to save4. This gap places individuals and families in a vulnerable state, struggling to cover essential needs like housing, food, and healthcare.

The rising cost of living is a further burden. In January 2023, Malaysians earning the minimum wage spent RM405 monthly on a basket of basic food items. In comparison, the same basket of basic food products cost RM 371 in January last year5.

At RM405 for food, that’s a third of the minimum wage spent. What is left for housing, clothes, healthcare? Hands up if you’re one of the 9 out of 10 Malaysians who are very concerned about the cost of living6.

An unforeseen expense or emergency could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back; forcing them to resort to predatory lending, plunging them into a high-interest debt trap.



Light at the end of the tunnel? But a long tunnel at that.

More awareness on the living wage by Bank Negara has stirred conversation and debate around its value for the Malaysian society and economy. We’re also seeing efforts by the government to explore and study ways to implement it.

While that brings hope for the future, the road to becoming a society with a comfortable living wage is a long and challenging one, so what can be done during this transition to fill the gap? 


Earned salary access is a solution. 

“I’ve already earned my salary but it’s stuck in the payroll until payday comes. Unfortunately I do not have savings. So, to cover this emergency or pay my bills on time, I’ve got to borrow money at a cost? What’s up with that…”


Earned salary access is when an employee is able to access a portion of salary they have already earned before the standard payday. For most companies in Malaysia, pay day is once a month. 

This flexibility to access their own salary, when they need it, is going to help them have greater control over their finances and avoid unnecessary costs. 

  1. Be able to pay bills on time and avoid late fees or penalties
  2. In times of emergencies, it’s a way to avoid borrowing money especially from predatory lenders who charge expensive interest rates. 

For the 55% working Malaysians who are already living paycheck-to-paycheck, one small misstep could be all it takes to get into a deep debt-trap that will be very difficult to escape. 

This is the value of cash flow flexibility that earned salary access can help provide. Sometimes, it’s all in the timing of things.



It’s a win-win for both Employers & Employees

It’ll need Employers to implement earned salary access in the workplace and they stand to gain from it too. It provides relief to the 65% of Malaysians who feel that their financial stress have affected their job performance7. By helping employees reduce their financial stress, employers can boost workplace morale, focus & productivity, and retention. 

However, implementing it can be a challenge. Employers will need cash flow for early payouts and the manpower to manually keep track and process the requests for earned salary access. With many companies focused on surviving the challenging economic climate and rising costs, it’ll come down to a prioritisation of limited resources.



Jom, DapatGaji. 

One way employers can provide earned salary access easily is by partnering with service providers, such as DapatGaji. 

Through our app, employees can track and request for their earned salary at any time. These requests are automatically recorded on the platform and the team at DapatGaji helps to process and payout the earned salary. 

Employers are freed up to focus on other parts of the business, while having visibility and control via the dashboard. 

It’s free for both Companies and Employees to sign up for the service. There are no interest rates charged on earned salary access requests, just a flat admin fee per transaction. 

To find out more on how DapatGaji can help your company, book a free consultation and demo with them here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Good reads come to those who click.

Subscribe for quarterly email updates on the latest articles here.

NOTE: You are signing up for the Talenox Blog's email newsletter. By subscribing, you read, agree, and consent to our Privacy Policy ( and Terms of Conditions (