Headscarf ban on hotel workers: Employment act to be amended to prevent discrimination

The Human Resources Ministry is finalising the proposed draft of the amendment of the Employment Act 1955 to address the issue of workplace discrimination following the ban on women wearing headscarves to be frontliners in the hotel industry. — Reuters pic
The Human Resources Ministry is finalising the proposed draft of the amendment of the Employment Act 1955 to address the issue of workplace discrimination following the ban on women wearing headscarves to be frontliners in the hotel industry. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 13 — The Human Resources Ministry is finalising the proposed draft of the amendment of the Employment Act 1955 to address the issue of workplace discrimination following the ban on women wearing headscarves to be frontliners in the hotel industry.

Minister, Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem said the proposal to amend the act was made following a discussion on Dec 5 last year, which involved ministries as well as related agencies, including the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Women, Family and Community Develoment Ministry, Department of Islamic Development Malaysia and Malaysian Employers Federation.

“The draft amendment to the law will be refined soon with several other agencies involved,” he said in a statement here today.

He said the ministry through the Labour Department of Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM) had also carried out inspections and investigations on 74 four-and-five-star hotels in Pahang, Johor, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya since last November.

According to Riot, the inspections were to identify existing elements of discrimination, particularly on the prohibition against the wearing of headscarves and the dress code set by employers.

He said the inspections revealed that 13 hotels adopted the no-headscarf policy during working hours while the remaining 61 did not set any policy on the matter.

He said the JTKSM had held discussions with the management of the hotels concerned and they had basically agreed to lift the ban.

“For example, in Johor, there are four hotels that prohibit the wearing of headscarves and after further discussion, they gave verbal and written agreement to lift the ban,” he said, adding that the JTKSM had also issued a letter to two associations and 10 unions from the hotel sector on Dec 18 last year to seek their written opinion on the issue.

Riot said the Malaysian Association of Hotels in its response to the letter said the policy of prohibiting employees from wearing headscarves depended on the management of the respective hotels.

He also reiterated his call to employers, especially hotel operators nationwide to give their commitment and cooperation in all government efforts to maintain harmony within the workplace.

As such, the minister said employers should always respect their workers’ rights not only in terms of improving compliance with existing labour laws in the country, but also respecting the rights of individuals as stipulated under Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution.

The Federal Constitution prohibited any form of discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion, race and descent, he added. — Bernama

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