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Hijabi at the reception

Hijab ban for frontline hotel staff in Malaysia: What HR professionals are saying

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Following a recent online report by Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) prohibiting front-line staff from wearing hijabs or headscarves, Human Resources spoke to several HR professionals  to hear their say in this matter. 

Coming from the hospitality background, Zacharias Rajagopal, cluster human resources manager, Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, commented: “Not all hotels ban the use of hijab. It is for the talent to check first with the hotel and not be taken aback as how talent has gotten used to the requirements of the airline industry.”

“However, I would suggest that hijabs to be allowed in the industry. Practitioners can standardise the style and type of hijabs used instead of a full ban; in alignment to the uniform they would want to design.”

Similarly, fellow hospitality player Khairul Amir, assistant human resources manager, Lexis Hotel Group, encouraged hijabis not to feel demotivated by the (hijab) rules among most of the hotels, especially international chains. He said: “They could pursue their dream career in local hotel chains owned by state body or corporate which allow their associates to wear hijab. There are many.”

“It is okay to start from lower-star rated hotels to gain experience and skills, thus to proceed to enter different industry which offers opportunities in frontline such as certain airlines company and also Islamic banking which require related talents in customer services,” he added.

Khairul said: “Working environment, policies, rules and regulations are supposed to be suitable to local culture and practices. I believe if hijab issues can be solved to have win-win situation, this may result to healthier productivity both in associate performance and also business development.”

Working environment, policies, rules and regulations are supposed to be suitable to local culture and practices.
- Khairul Amir, assistant human resources manager, Lexis Hotel Group

Sharing her sentiment on this matter, Selvi Murugiah, HR director, APAC at Veolia, said: “In my opinion, staff wearing the hijab should not be a problem as part of the front-line in the hotel industry; as long as the hijab is moderate (for example, the full ones that cover the entire face). Hotels could come out with guidelines on how the hijab should be.”

ALSO READ: How perceptions of the office dress code differ for men and women

On the other hand, MAH had also reported in The Malay Mail Online that “Muslim women working in Penang hotels are not barred from wearing the tudung (headscarf)”. On that note, Laurence Yap, head of HR, Dexon Electrical Engineering, commented: ” For those wearing hijab, seek career in hotels that accept such attire. For a country with population of 65% Muslim like Malaysia, hijab is a part of the day to day dress code.”

“The current ban is for the front-lines only. Maybe the hotel industry can leave it to the respective hotel to have its own dress code policy. It has triggered concerns from many parties with regards to diversity policies.”

Photo / 123RF

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