Public holidays in SA: Is it a case of enough already?

Out of the past eight weeks, five have included a public holiday - sometimes mid-week - leading to people taking extra leave days to enjoy an extended long weekend.

This is bad news for business and the economy.

Styli Charalambous, publisher and chief executive officer at Daily Maverick chats to CapeTalk's Lester Kiewit. he says there is a better way to give workers that extra time off.

It plays havoc with businesses trying to do business, trying to get back into the groove after the long summer holidays and it's been hugely disruptive.

Styli Charalambous, Publisher and chief executive officer - Daily Maverick

The proposal put forward by Charalambous is based on converting some of the public holidays, for instance, six out of the annual 12, to extra leave days. This year, election day added a 13th holiday.

We're kind of giving those days back to the workers so they can take it when they want - businesses don't shut down across the country and the government doesn't lose out on missed tax revenue as well as the impact on GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Styli Charalambous, Publisher and chief executive officer - Daily Maverick

Charalambous also references the timing of the public holidays and how this breaks the momentum of getting things done in a company.

Things take time to happen, for example, anyone in the business development space knows that meetings have to be set up and follow-ups need to be done and people just aren't at their best because they're either already on holiday or about to go on holiday.

Styli Charalambous, Publisher and chief executive officer - Daily Maverick

His proposal includes limiting the number of public holidays to no more than two a month and making sure they don't fall in the middle of the week.

That mid-week holiday break we've got to get rid of. Some countries say if it's a public holiday it has to fall on a Friday or a Monday, take the long weekend. It discourages people taking those annual leave days in between.

Styli Charalambous, Publisher and chief executive officer - Daily Maverick

Caller Joseph phoned in to say that the human economy also plays a role in the overall economy, making the point that time spent with family has wider spinoffs.

Lester agrees, saying parents who work 12-hour shifts need to spend time with their children to build their confidence and improve their cognitive ability through for instance reading to them.

He says this will help build society which contributes to building the economy in the long run.

For more on the debate about public holidays, take a listen:


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