Improper to ban headscarf at workplace , says MEF

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PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) director Shamsuddin Bardan has voiced disagreement with the banning of headscarves at the workplace.

“I would say that barring women from wearing scarves is inappropriate,” he said in a comment on complaints made by hotel employees to the Malaysian Labour Centre of the Union Network International (Uni-MLC).

Speaking to FMT, Shamsuddin said companies that practise such discrimination should resolve the issue in consultation with their workers.

He suggested the introduction of a dress code that would take into account Muslim women’s right to wear the headscarf.

“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.”

Uni-MLC, through a letter to the press, urged Human Resource Minister Richard Riot to address the issue so as to prevent discrimination against women employees.

It also reported that students attending hospitality and tourism courses were instructed to remove their headscarves before applying for internship.

Nurhayu Zainal, the coordinator of women affairs for Parti Sosialis Malaysia, also spoke to FMT on the issue. She called on the government to prevent discrimination at the workplace.

“We need to promote greater awareness and a sense of equality at the workplace,” she said. “A headscarf won’t affect a woman’s ability to perform her tasks.

“This should not have become an issue.”