Having lived in Bali for nearly three years, I’ve experienced various holidays and ceremonies. Perhaps you’ve heard of Galungan, Kuningan or the Day of Silence, called Nyepi.
We are now halfway through Ramadan and I’ve noticed how everybody is pushing to get things done and projects completed before the country “shuts down.” I’d like to share with you the most common misconceptions I’ve heard about how the holidays affect life in Bali, especially when it comes to running a business.
First myth: Bali is going to be shut down during Ramadan
Many people think of the period of Ramadan as a month-long holiday and fear that everything is going to be closed. They also believe that if anything happens to be open, it is probably not functioning properly as people are going to be slower and moodier.
This is not true. Bali includes a mix of different religions, but is predominantly Hindu. Ramadan does not have as big an impact here as, for example, in the mainly Muslim Jakarta. But, even in Jakarta business mostly continues as usual – perhaps with slightly shorter office hours to accommodate for fasting schedules.
Second myth: All employees want to take a week off after Ramadan
Also, the official holidays in Bali are not as long as commonly believed. This year, the official government holidays for Ramadan are June 5 for the end of Ramadan and June 6 to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. The rest of the week is collective leave declared by the government, which companies can implement, but do not have to.
If your company implements the collective leave, the days will be deducted from the annual leave balance of the employees. Don’t assume that all of your employees want to have the entire week off – many may prefer to keep their annual leave for other holidays.
The government offices usually follow the collective leave policy during Ramadan as well as for all of the Balinese holidays. Bali is happy to celebrate the holidays of all religions.
Third myth: Indonesians only get twelve days off per year
When I moved to Indonesia and first encountered the fact that the paid annual leave is 12 days, and applicable only after a year of working, I was shocked. Coming from a country with 28 days of annual leave, it sounded inhumane, even though I love scrolling through my mailbox whilst lying in bed with my coffee on my days off.
When my work here started to kick in, I realised there are quite a few public holidays, and the total number of official days off beats the 28 days form my home country with ease. For example, in 2019 there are 17 national holidays.
Dealing with HR matters every day has taught me that there are many other types of paid leave which the employees can make the most of, depending on their dutifulness. You’ve probably heard the jokes that HR should keep a list of dead family members to make sure that the same grandfather didn’t die twice. These jokes have a real basis in the law – death of a close family member gives three days paid leave and a not-so-close relative entitles a worker to one day. Paid leave is also granted for many other family and religious matters, and is pretty much unlimited, unless the person is sick for a year in a row.
The number of holidays be what it may, don’t be discouraged and make the most of it. Keep in mind that in practice, it is common to also schedule meetings on days off. Keeping the business open while others are on a collective leave might also be an effective way to beat your competition.
Please get in touch with Triin Tigane who is the Branch Manager of Emerhub Bali ,Triin Tigane has been assisting people with starting their business in Bali for nearly 3 years. Having a legal background in M&A, commercial and corporate law, restructuring and insolvency as a lawyer, Triin has experience working with companies all around the world. She knows which challenges starting and expanding companies face, and which standard of communication and services are expected by international clients expanding to emerging markets. Triin Tigane holds a masters degree from the University of Tartu, Estonia, and has studied law also in France and Austria. Feel free to drop her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org