HOLIDAYS: How To Be More Productive
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE new investigation of South African public holidays should look beyond the religious significance of public holidays and consider the impact of the holidays on the productivity of the country and the economy, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities was set up after complaints that the Public Holidays Act “caters only for Christian holy days thus unfairly discriminating against the holy days of other religions.”
The commission will hold public hearings on the issue in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Durban and Cape Town during the course of this month. The Cape Town hearing is on June 28.
Michael Bagraim, President of the Chamber, said the major problem with public holidays was the way extra holidays were created on a Friday or Monday when a public holiday fell during the weekend as well as holidays in the middle of the week.
“We had a situation last year when an employee could take three days annual leave between Easter and Labour Day and be absent from work for 11 straight days. Business had to pay a full month’s wages for just16 days of work.
“If we are serious about making this country more productive and competitive in the global market place and creating new jobs we will have to deal with the public holiday problem,” he warned.
He said it would be disastrous if the commission created even more public holidays to accommodate other religions.
He did not believe there was any discrimination against other religious groups as it was standard practice to give both Muslims and Jews holidays on their holy days. “In fact, both Muslims and Jews enjoyed extra holidays as most of them also benefitted with days off at Christmas and Easter when most places of work were closed down.”
Bagraim said we should aim for a more flexible system where people of different religions helped each other by filling in for them on holy days. “It is common practice in the emergency services and the retail industry for Jews and Muslims to volunteer to work Christmas and Easter shifts while Christians worked on Jewish and Muslim holidays.”
The Chamber had campaigned over the years for mid-week holidays to be moved to a Monday or Friday to create a long weekend rather than an interrupted week. Holidays which fell during the weekend should be celebrated on the actual day and not transferred to a weekday.
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