LAST_UPDATESun, 24 Jun 2018 9pm

Employers Banning Headscarves In Hospitality Industry Is Intolerable

For a country that often preaches about peace and harmony between religions in our multiracial and multi-religious society, it is ironic to know that religious discrimination still exists within various industries in the country, especially hospitality.

This ignoble practice came to light after the Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International (Uni-MLC) received abundant complaints, lodged by hotel employees, in regards to their employers banning headscarves at the workplace.

“I would say that barring women from wearing scarves is inappropriate,” Malaysian Employer Federation Director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan relayed to Free Malaysia Today (FMT), and stressed that employers ought to consult with their employees to find a mutually benefitting solution.

“If a company wants the headscarf to blend with its uniform, for example, then the management can ask the Muslim women to match the colour of the scarf with the standard colour.

“Or perhaps the management can come up with an acceptable design for the headscarf. It would then be more like a win-win situation.”

Photo for representational purpose only. (Source: Getty Images)Photo for representational purpose only. (Source: Getty Images)

Similarly, President of The International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (Wafiq) Dr Rafidah Mokhtar, emphasised that the headscarf is never a hindrance to the nature of their (hotel employees’) work and the banning should not be tolerated.

“This is even more so in a country which holds Islam as the religion of the Federation,” she wrote in FMT.

“Simply being in the private sector does not exclude the party from respecting one’s right to practice their religious requirements.”

As a matter of fact, the Wafiq President underlined that Malaysia Airlines practices the similar regulation and conveyed that there were also suggestions to permit flight attendants to don their headscarf should they choose to.

“The fact that flight attendants with hijab had been serving the pilgrims during the Hajj season in flights to Mecca is testimony that wearing the hijab does not determine inefficiency,” she echoed.

Photo for representational purposes only. (Pic: iStock)Photo for representational purposes only. (Pic: iStock)Emphasising that it was not an easy task for female employees employed in the hospitality industries to lodge complaints due to the fact that allowances, salaries and internship placements are involved, she underlined that this may serve as a problem for final year students who are required to complete their internship prior graduation.

“Our Muslim students are trapped in a systematic discriminatory process along the line,” she communicated.

Her two cents is proven true when FMT reported that students, who are enrolled in the hospitality and tourism courses, are asked to remove their headscarves prior commencing their internship programme.

“We need to promote greater awareness and a sense of equality at the workplace,” Nurhayu Zainal, the coordinator of women affairs for Parti Sosialis Malaysia Nurhayu Zainal said and urged for the government to intervene in acts of discrimination at the workplace.

“A headscarf won’t affect a woman’s ability to perform her tasks – this should not have become an issue.”

Meanwhile, Uni-MLC has written in a media statement that the establishment has reached out to the Human Resources Minister, Richard Riot, in hopes that the ministry will address the issue concerning discrimination endured by female employees.

Taking a stand against such intolerable practices, Dr Rafidah advised former (and current) victims of religious discrimination to forward their woes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., whilst assuring that their confidentiality will be kept.

- Malaysian Digest