New law excludes migrant workers from Ramadan bonus

Amendments passed today to the Employment Act excludes Muslim migrant workers from a Ramadan bonus, but state employees will now receive an increased payout of MVR3,000 (US$194).

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Ali had proposed changing the mandatory Ramadan bonus from one-third of the monthly salary to a flat rate of MVR3,000 for all Muslim workers in the Maldives.

The 2008 employment law previously entitled all Muslim workers in the Maldives to a sum no less than one-third of their monthly salary for the month of fasting, with a minimum of MVR2,000 (US$129) and a maximum of MVR10,000 (US$645).

But the amendments approved today leave it to the discretion of employers in both the public and private sectors to pay the Ramadan bonus to Muslim migrant workers. If employers opt to pay the bonus, expatriate workers must also be paid MVR3,000.

The amendment bill was proposed to equalise the Ramadan allowance as staff in higher paying jobs receive a significantly higher bonus.

The Dhuvafaru MPs’ bill was also changed to exempt the private sector from the new rule for a year.

Private businesses will have to pay the MVR3,000 bonus to Maldivian employees for next year’s Ramadan.

The bill was passed unanimously with 60 votes in favour at today’s sitting of parliament. Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs also voted in favour of the bill.

During today’s debate, some MDP MP objected to excluding Muslim migrant workers from receiving the allowance.

MP Eva Abdulla contended that the move amounts to “discrimination” against foreign workers, noting that the majority of Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives were Muslims.

On social media, Human Rights Commission of Maldives vice president Ahmed Tholal also said that excluding expatriate Muslims “goes against the principles of non-discrimination and equality.”

Several pro-government MPs, however, defended the changes, arguing that expatriates are not entitled to the same benefits as the local population in most other countries.

There are some 124,000 migrant workers in the Maldives. A sizeable percentage comes from Muslim-majority Bangladesh. 

PPM MP Jameel Usman’s proposal to make the Ramadan bonus to expatriates discretionary was passed unanimously with 55 votes in favour.  

MDP MP Mohamed Abdul Kareem had proposed paying MVR5,000 as the Ramadan bonus for all Maldivian employees, but his amendment was defeated 42-13 during today’s sitting.

During the debate on the amendments last week, both pro-government and opposition MPs expressed concern with private businesses having to raise additional funds to pay the mandatory MVR3,000 with Ramadan just over a week away. 

MP Ahmed Nihan, parliamentary group leader of the PPM, announced plans to equalise the Ramadan bonus last month. 

Nihan said at the time that MVR36 million (US$2.3million) in extra funding would be needed to increase the Ramadan allowance for all state employees. The current budget for Ramadan allowance stands at MVR92 million (US$5.9million).

Statistics published by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) shows almost half of the country’s 24,742 civil servants are paid less than MVR4,999 (US$ 324) a month. 


One thought on “New law excludes migrant workers from Ramadan bonus”

  1. Mordisians are very good at crowing about their religion when it comes to feeling good about themselves.

    But when it comes to helping other muslims, most have no problem suddenly becoming more miserly and arrogant than a stereotype jewish penny pincher.

    We know that Sadhoom was blasted into the earth in ancient times. Are we in Sadhoom risen again?


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