Open Book Blog Hop – Should we have more bank holidays?

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May 4 2020 is the unofficial Star Wars Day.  What other days should be recognised as holidays but aren’t?

South Africa has twelve public holidays which seems to be more than many other countries. The holidays fall on specified dates which means that they can occur on any day of the week including weekend days. South Africa also has a traditional holiday shut down period of about three weeks over the Christmas period. Many business close between 16 December (a public holiday) and the end of the first week in January.

It is nice to have holidays but they can result in a loss of productivity especially when more than one holiday occur in the same week or when the public holiday occurs mid-week. When this happens, many people take a whole week’s leave and that does create strain when a lot of people are all away at the same time and there is work to be done. I work with a lot of advisors, lawyers and teams from London and the US, so I rarely get to take any extra time off over these periods. I frequently work on the public holidays and sometimes over the weekends too. Easter, particularly, seems to be a busy time in my life and I nearly always need to work at least one, but more often two, of the four-day holiday period. For the past four years, I have been working on international transactions over the Christmas shutdown period too so I have also worked during this traditional holiday time.

I don’t mind working over holiday periods, as I am glad to have work and be busy. There are lots of people who don’t have work especially in our weak economic environment. I thought when Covid-19 came along recently, I might not be busy. I was wrong and I am busier than ever. My firm was closed last week but I worked every day.

Back to the question, should there be more holidays? No, not in South Africa. This is a developing country and our economy is ailing. People here need to work hard to get our businesses up and running again, especially after this unfortunate lock down period. If public holidays are necessary, then they should be on a Monday only, like they are in the UK. At least then the entire week isn’t disrupted because one of the days is a holiday.

I do believe that people need breaks from work and I think that these breaks should be in the form of a continuous break of at least two, but preferably, three weeks. This allows people to have a proper change and unwind from all the accumulated stress of their daily work and lives. I also think that people should not be disturbed by their work places at all during their holiday times. If I work for even one or two hours on a holiday day, all the benefit of the relaxation is gone and I am all stressed and tense again. I haven’t had a holiday where I haven’t had to work for at least two or three days out of a fourteen day holiday period, in over ten years. Based on my own experiences, I don’t think this is good for a person’s general health. You get stale with your job and it starts to wear you down.

This is what I think but I am a chartered accountant with a strong interest in African and other developing economies. I would like to see more job creation and a better life for people in these countries and, I believe, that takes hard work and sacrifice with specified beneficial breaks for workers to recover and recharge.

What about you?

Do you think there should be more holidays?  Click on the link below to find out, or even add a comment.

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39 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – Should we have more bank holidays?

  1. some good ideas here, Robbie. I like making Monday the official day to celebrate holidays. Everyone likes a three-day weekend. I also like your idea of people taking a continuous break of two-three weeks. I couldn’t tell if you meant for everyone to take the same two-three week break. Were you referring to the traditional time off around Christmas? Or was this an additional two-three weeks off? I sure hope Africa’s economy starts to grow soon…

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    1. Hi Jim, we couldn’t afford to double up the holidays here so I was meaning over the traditional Christmas break. It make sense to make it a good holiday when everything shuts down. For the past few years I have been working on international deals at that time of year so have had to work. Overseas the shutdown time is August. Here is is busy in August so it feels like a bit of a no win for me.

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      1. I am lucky; as a teacher, I have always gotten a break at Christmas time. Plus most of the summer. It’s one of the perks of the job.

        too bad your slow time (if there is one!) doesn’t synch up with the overseas shutdowns…

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      1. I was in my teens when the first trilogy came out. I’ll call it a “cultural moment within an era.” The experience back then, of what were at that time amazing special effects, combined with the timing of uplifting excitement was amazing. The later movies didn’t bring out those feelings. I saw one or two after that, but never saw all of them. Have a terrific Tuesday.

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  2. When my husband and I are on vacation, we turn off our cell phones. You can’t get cell coverage here in Alaska outside the major cities and the highway corridors anyway, so we turn them off and that keeps our employers from bothering us. My current employer might send me emails too, but I simply don’t log in. I’m not salaried, so they can’t complain. After the first few times I did that, they stopped freaking out.

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  3. I’d much rather have a longer break than just one day off. I used to enjoy having two or three months leave, a long break with no chance of being pestered. The four or five months at sea to earn it was another matter!!!

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    1. Yes, I can imagine that when you are at sea, you are on call as required. That type of job would be like that but you get the longer holidays as compensation. I would like to go longer than a week without someone needing something from me.

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  4. Hi Robbie – we have 10 federal holidays here in the U.S. Our schools also have all sorts of half days and in-service days throughout the year. Everything is different now because of the pandemic and people who can work remotely are doing work at all times. My job has changed in that, I used to have 2 weekdays off, but now I find that I’m doing something every day, even on weekends. Though I never do work on an official holiday. When you are working with people from other countries, like you are, your local calendar doesn’t always match up – I’m sure that’s hard.

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    1. I don’t mind working public holidays that much when I’m on a deadline, Barbara. I get a bit miffed when I am continuously disturbed during vacation time. It is very stressful to be travelling and to have people calling you with issues. Working from home does make it difficult to implement work boundaries, I agree.

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      1. I used to have my own business and I ran it out of my apartment, from a spare room. At the end of the day, I would shut the door and the phone would ring and ring in there, then my home phone would ring. They knew how to reach me, but I worked hard to set boundaries.

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  5. I’m one of those people whose job requires 24/7/365 availability in case of emergencies. Luckily, I have a boss who understands the true meaning of the word emergency and doesn’t abuse it. One of these days, when I retire, it’ll bring me great joy to turn off the phone and not worry about getting called!

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    1. My job is like that too. I am expected to be available any time, any how and any place and I am only in corporate finance not medicine or anything life saving. We have funny priorities in this world, don’t we?

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  6. I’ve never really thought about whether there should be more holidays. The only times I check work email when I’m on vacation is when I’m teaching a class. Otherwise, I’m incommunicado.

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    1. It depends on the nature of your job. It is difficult to hand over complex transactions to other people and we have limited staff who are accredited with the stock exchange to do this work. It creates a bit of a problem.

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  7. We have 8 public holidays in the UK this year, one of them is on Friday this week. I didn’t realise until a family friend told me that it had been changed from yesterday to coincide with VE Day celebrations.

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      1. Well, we have Good Friday and whatever day Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day fall on. The May bank holidays are usually on a Monday and so is the August bank holiday, but this year the early May holiday is this Friday to coincide with VE Day celebrations.

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  8. I think we should just be given a lump of “holidays” at the beginning of the year to use as we would vacation or sick leave. That way a Jew could take off Yom Kippur instead of Christmas, or a Hindu could take Diwali instead of Easter. But, in reality, my plan would end with “take all vacation and holidays at once” for most people!

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    1. Yes, I fear you are right about that H. My firm has done away with religious leave other than set public holidays which are religious in their origination. Employees now have a bit more leave and must take that for religious holidays if they want time off.

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  9. In England we’re very deprived, having only 8 public holidays. Scotland and Northern Ireland do a little better, but still below your level. But now that I’m retired every day is like a public holiday!

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  10. It seems like we have a ton of holidays here in the US. There’s one day every month, I think – but there are days when the schools are closed for meetings and different days when banks are closed for… something.

    I don’t know, though. When we went to Italy for about 20 days a few years ago, it was a long time to be away from work. I remember taking two weeks off to tour France and Germany and I was missing my own bed after six days. I am/have been pretty much able to be off when I’m off, but I like what I do and I miss it when I’m not doing it.

    As much as it sounds amazing to take three weeks off each year, I’d probably go nuts if I did.

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    1. I understand what you are saying, Dan. I think it depends on what you are doing and why you are doing it. I could take three weeks off from my day job in a year and it would do me a lot of good. I haven’t had even a working week off for the past six or seven years due to the “brain drain” in my country which leads to a shortage of skills. Previously, when I did get proper leave, I would spend the first week nodding off to sleep at every possible opportunity as I think mental stress wears you down. I don’t find writing and other related stuff I do has the same effect on me. When I am on leave, I usually write and blog as I find these tasks relaxing. Of course, if I relied on them for income to live that would change and they would become more stressful. I guess that is the name of the game in life.

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