Eid al-Fitr or Idul Fitri falls on June 25 this year. More popularly known as Lebaran in Indonesia, it’s one of the most revered Muslim holidays. It celebrates the conclusion of the fasting month of Ramadhan. Therefore, Lebaran is a joyous time to reunite with family and friends, to pray together as a community, and to ask for forgiveness of any errs of the past year.
Many millions of Indonesians will receive their Lebaran bonus and vacation, stimulating the economy as they buy gifts and necessities. They also travel back to their home town or village (an annual event referred to as mudik), throwing the already stretched Indonesian infrastructure into total chaos.
If you employ Muslims in your household, and this is your first Lebaran in Indonesia, you may not know what to expect. This article explores some of the legal and cultural issues around the holiday, as it relates to your staff.
When is Lebaran?
Lebaran follows the lunar calendar, and therefore the date changes every year. In 2017 it falls on June 25, and in 2018 it will be on June 15. In Indonesia, Lebaran day and the day after that are public holidays. The government then designates a few more days as Cuti Bersama, which are recommended holidays. In 2017 the days designated as such are June 27 – 30.
Lebaran vacation for household staff
While the official holiday is merely a couple of days, in practice Lebaran vacation stretches up to 3 weeks or more. This is particularly true for informal workers such as your household staff. Typically they want to travel back to their home village. Furthermore, most do not have the means to do this trip more than once a year, so naturally they will want to make the most of it. Also, the further out from the main dates the travel is, tickets are cheaper, and the trip much easier.
With those considerations, it is usual to grant holiday leave from around 7 to 10 days before Lebaran day, and not expect your staff to come back until 7 to 10 days after.
Lebaran bonus rules
According to Indonesian labor law, all employees are entitled to a yearly bonus. This bonus, is called Tunjangan Hari Raya (Religious Holiday Supplement) or THR for short. Muslims receive it as a Lebaran bonus. The rules that apply are as follows:
- Lebaran bonus is payable to Muslim employees seven days prior to Lebaran. Employees of other religions receive THR seven days prior to their designated religious holiday.
- Employees who have worked at least 1 year, are eligible for the full amount of the Lebaran bonus.
- Those who have worked for at least 30 days are eligible to receive a prorated amount.
- Employees include all those who are employed regularly, whether full-time, part-time or on contract basis.
- The bonus amount is one month’s wage. For the calculation of wage, add base pay and any benefits normally included, such as meal allowance, etc.
- You may subtract up to 50% of the Lebaran bonus to pay for debt outstanding to you by the employee, if any.
- Payable in money only.
- Employees who quit over 30 days prior to their designated holiday are no longer eligible for THR.
Note: The most recent law pertaining to THR is Labor Minister Decree No 6, 2016. You may download a copy here.
Giving your employees Lebaran gifts
You may give your employee additional gifts on top of the Lebaran bonus if you want. Keep in mind to give practical, portable gifts if you know your employee is going mudik. Typically, cash is best. Another good idea is gift baskets with grocery staples and and treats. Common items include rice, cooking oil, sugar, krupuk, cookies, candies, soft drinks, tea and coffee. You can buy these pre-made, but making them yourself can be also be fun. If you go this route, distribute them to staff several days in advance of their departure. That way they can enjoy the contents during fast-breaking, and/or make arrangements to take heavy items home.
If your staff lives in, another good idea is to give them something for their room in your house. A new set of bed linens for example.
Lebaran gratuity for other people who provide you a service
It is customary to give a small gratuity for other people who regularly perform a service for you, but are not employed by you. For example the security and garden staff if you live in a housing community. Typically this will be collected by your RT head or other representative of the community. There is usually a recommended amount, but giving more will be noticed and appreciated.
Wishing your employees Happy Holidays
There are of course endless ways to do this. In Indonesia some common phrases you can use:
- Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri: Happy Eid-al Fitr in Indonesian
- Selamat Hari Raya Lebaran: same as above
- Minal ‘Aidin wal-Faizin: an almost uniquely Indonesian Lebaran saying, usually immediately followed by,
- Mohon maaf lahir batin: a plea for forgiveness of all errs from the past year.
You may also pick up a Lebaran greeting card and express your well wishes that way. Ideal for placing the Lebaran bonus as well.
In person, you can say Selamat Hari Raya Lebaran, Minal ‘Aidin wal-Faizin, mohon maaf lahir batin. This is done while holding their hands in a two handed handshake. You then withdraw your hands and clasp your palms together, then rotate your fingers upwards into prayer like position. A slight nod or bow is usually also given.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to give and receive Lebaran well wishes via text messaging or social media. If your staff is on your contact list, you may of course do it this way. You can even copy or forward a nice sentiment you may have yourself received.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and this is true for the help provided by your household staff as well. Many people will rediscover the joys of house chores. Many more will escape to vacation spots both local and far away. But if you absolutely must have staff over the holidays, you need what is called infal staff (from the Dutch invaller – substitute). Look for this keyword, as it means that they will be available to work as a substitute for you over the Lebaran holidays. As you’d expect, this comes at a premium, typically twice of what the normal pay would be for the same period.
It should go without saying that you will want top notch references for temporary staff. Even then you should be extra careful with personal valuables, and should restrict access only to the common areas of the house.
For one reason or another, some of your staff may not return after the holidays. It may be because they didn’t like the work and were only waiting for the Lebaran bonus to go home. It may be because they have another job lined up. Whatever the reason, you will likely find out only when they do not return on the predetermined date. Therefore, unless you really trust the person, avoid giving out new loans prior to Lebaran holiday. Further, it is best to not make any plans that requires your staff to be back until they actually return.
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