The holiday season is fast approaching, and you know what that means: on top of the 13th-month bonuses, customary in various African countries, leave is also a great incentive for your employees to feel rewarded when allocating their payroll. But did you know that, in most African countries, holiday dates differ, as the ethnic mix of populations celebrate various holidays throughout the year? Furthermore, as a matter of good practice, further time off perks are often given to employees as well.
When taking your business to Africa, understanding a people’s culture on top of legal requirements is of the utmost importance to make the employees feel understood, and thus, provide great employee experience and retain talent. We take you to 5 different African countries to show you what all good employers should know and practice.
With 49% of Hindus, 32% of Christians, and 17% of Muslims according to the World Population Review, Mauritius has a diverse workforce and a grand total of 16 public holidays. The great tolerance for religious freedoms in the country also gives additional customary perks on certain occasions. For instance, on a weekly basis, many businesses allow an extra hour for Muslim employees to attend Friday prayers at noon, and many businesses accommodate their shifts around Adventist employees who cannot work during Sabbath (from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday). Similarly, during End of Year celebrations, many businesses close at noon on Christmas eve, and do the same, or totally close on New Years’ eve to allow all employees to prepare for the celebrations.
With 90% Sunni Muslims and 10% Coptic Christians, Egypt has 16 public holidays, most of which are relevant to Muslim festivals and national milestones. However, Coptic Christmas and Easter are public holidays, although they are respectively celebrated on January 7th and May 2nd, contrary to other Christian denominations. Another fun fact? Egypt has no public holiday on record for January 1st. Instead, they celebrate the Islamic New Year on August 9th. With an overwhelming majority of Muslims, Egyptian businesses also give their employees time to attend prayer on Fridays. During the month of Ramadan, many offices further choose to have shorter hours to free employees for prayer time and rest after long hours of fasting.
With most Ethiopians following the Orthodox Church, 19.4% Protestants, and 34.1% Muslims in Ethiopia, according to Britannica, the country has 13 holidays per year. Ethiopians also celebrate Christian holidays based on the Julian calendar, with Christmas on January 7th, and Easter in late April. In this country where reputation is sacrosanct for all individuals, communicating one’s needs and expectations with diplomacy is of the utmost importance.
According to Britannica, the overwhelming majority of Mauritanians are Muslims (99%). They celebrate 10 public holidays, mostly Muslim religious events, and the inspiring celebration of African Unity Day. It is therefore important to note that there are no recognized celebrations of Christmas, nor of the Gregorian New Year (that we celebrate on January 1st). As a predominantly Muslim country with state-owned media, respecting both culture and beliefs is essential to ensure the cohesion of your teams there, and the good run of business.
South Africa’s religious landscape is particularly interesting, with 86% Christians, 5.4% ancestral, tribal, animist, or other traditional African religions, and 1.9% Muslims according to Index Mundi. The landscape therefore looks like a great place for diversity, suggesting an open-minded culture, but also great diplomacy above all else. Their public holidays are equally revealing about the values that are treasured, with dedicated Family Day, Youth Day, and Heritage Day which reflect the country’s high esteem of the social fabric and cultural pride… As key markers of what South Africans prioritize in life. South African generosity is also a central element with gift-giving to employees… So much so, that any gifts exceeding ZAR 5,000 received by an employee from their employer are taxable.
As intrinsically linked to your employee’s priorities, local culture is an element any business owner should master. By understanding your employee’s values, you will be better equipped to offer them attractive packages and respecting their views will make for a great employee experience by retaining talent. As an Employer of Record, Africa HR Solutions is the perfect middleman between your business needs and local employees’ culture to bridge the gap and set up reporting processes and healthy communication mechanisms between both parties for flawless business.
Didn’t know that gifts to employees were taxable in South Africa? Keeping track of all tax and reporting laws is our forte, at Africa HR Solutions! As a Payroll service provider in 46 African countries, we assist you in your endeavors, and bear the responsibility for your compliance with all relevant laws and regulations!