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!
Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.
Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.
His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.
Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.
Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.
Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.
Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.
Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.
In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.
A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.
Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.
He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.
Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.
With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.
His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.
He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.
Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.