Is Allowing Resort Staff to Travel Home at Night Just “Political Theatre”?

The People’s Majlis has passed a bill that allows resort employees to finish their work and go home for the night. We asked the experts’ opinion on this law- Is this truly beneficial or is it just a political act?

“How does somebody who lives in Fuvahmulah or Addu or Huvadhoo atoll go overnight to home when they make up the majority of the local tourism workers?” questions a Former HR Manager. Most resorts are located near the capital Male`, but a majority of the workforce is from islands.

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The Maldives has a very unique geographical feature and resort tourism is based on the ‘one island one resort’ concept. Inhabited islands are separate from resorts and in most cases, luxury resorts are located away from inhabited islands for more seclusion and privacy. This means that employees working at the resort will need access to transportation.

“The government needs to have a proper transportation system. Not everyone can afford to have private transfers and also resorts need to accept local vehicles coming in. They will implement internal procedures that hinder this process. There must be a lot of mini regulations to enforce this law,” said Cluster HR Director of a 5 Star hotel chain in Maldives.

“This whole bill is nothing more than political theatre. What’s proposed here is not at all feasible when you take into account the fact that the majority of resort workers are working at resorts far from their own islands and atolls for a variety of reasons. If anything, this will only further disenfranchise those working in the hospitality industry and the worse thing about it is that the government is well aware of that very fact,” says Athif Ibrahim, hospitality professional working in one of the top luxury resorts in Maldives.

According to a resort manager of a 5-star resort, this should have been considered a long time ago. “It will be very challenging for management to implement it in the beginning. The whole operation will have to be reorganized to facilitate it. Hotels never sleep so sending people off to sleep with family will be difficult to accommodate. At the beginning of tourism, most workers were either from the islands or they were foreign so there was no question or demand”.

“I have two opinions – my thoughts with the manager hat on is that it will be very challenging and not fair, also costly to implement. However, when I put my employee hat on, I agree this should be facilitated for those who have the opportunity,” he said.

However, there is also some positive feedback on this change. “Currently, most of the resort managements are very strict. Doesn’t allow staff to leave even after duty. This law gives staff freedom and encourages work-life balance. This will help staff from close by islands. Any good change (small or big) is good. Moreover, this law encourage more and more Maldivian women to work in resorts, ” –said Cluster Sales & Marketing Director of a 5-star resort in Maldives.

Therefore, the law to allow resort employees to return home for the night to their islands is believed to be an important decision for the employees, enabling them to balance their work and personal life better. However, the government needs to take certain actions for this to be actually useful, such as improving transportation.

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