Choose when to take stat holidays?

27/10/2020

A Hindu group is calling for Diwali to be made a public holiday:

Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed, who is based in the US, said that the government needs to revisit its public holiday policies as the country’s demography has changed.*

He said it’s unfair for the Hindu community to be at work or school on their most popular festival and making it a public holiday would be a “a step in the positive direction”.

Zed said that awareness about other religions created by such holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the country.

Would it, or would it, like most other statutory holidays, become just another day off with little or no interest in the reason behind it for most of us?

This year’s Diwali falls on Saturday, 14 November. In 2022, Diwali falls on Monday, 24 October.

October 24th will be Labour Day which is a national holiday anyway.

Easter’s changing dates already cause problems with planning, adding another movable celebration would cause more confusion.

Adding another holiday for one culture will add to calls for special days for other cultures to be recognised.

Labour made an election promise to make Matariki a public holiday.

That was popular and I wouldn’t object to it but I am in the camp which favours it replacing one of the 11 existing statutory holiday rather than adding a 12th although which it would replace is debatable.

Act leader David Seymour has an alternative idea:

Act says there’s a way to give workers the public holidays they want – without burdening employers with extra costs.

The party is calling for an overhaul to the current holiday laws. . . 

Leader David Seymour says national holidays like Anzac Day and Waitangi Day should be mandated – but other holidays like Easter and Labour Day don’t need to be.

He told Tim Dower making holidays flexible is better than creating more holidays.

“If you keep putting costs onto employment, you’ve got to apply some cause and effect thinking, because people who run businesses and employ people, they’re going to absorb that cost.”

Seymour says that the best option is to introduce some flexibility, with people able to trade out particular days.

Schools couldn’t have pupils taking days off at anytime to suit holidaying parents; having staff away at odd times could put pressure on other workers and some businesses find it easier to have all staff off at the same time.

People planning reunions, other celebrations and events often choose long weekends to maximise the chance of people being able to attend. With no set dates for holidays, numbers attending might be reduced.

However, people who have jobs in businesses or services that operate on holidays already have some choice over when they take their statutory days.

Flexibility over holiday dates could lead to a reduction in costs for employers too. If workers could choose which day to take a holiday it would do away with the current requirement to pay time and a half and give another day off to anyone who works on a statutory holiday.

It would allow people to choose dates that suited them, reduce traffic to and from holiday spots, and could even out some of the peaks and troughs for accommodation and activity providers in holiday hot spots by spreading visitor numbers over longer periods.

Flexibility over when statutory holidays are taken could work and it’s definitely better than adding another one.


The reason for the season

24/12/2019

Jim Hopkins remembers Christmases past:

. . . Christmas always stirs strong feelings and vivid memories for me.

I grew up south of the tracks in Christchurch when coal was king and fired the steam trains that thundered through. Dad was the vicar at St Mary’s Addington and, for him, Christmas was one of the most important times of the year.

Which should come as no surprise, though it may do now.

A birth in Bethlehem is, after all, the reason we actually have a Christmas holiday. And that birth used to be an integral part of the celebration.

Recognised in school nativity plays, on the wireless, in newspapers, its story touched most people’s lives.

Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men shared the limelight with Mr Claus and his elves.

Needless to say, the vicar’s offspring took their place in the pews – along with the rest of the community. Service first, pud and presents later. That was the drill.

I can still see the interior of that old church, dark timber beams, dust motes drifting in the light filtered through stained glass windows. I can hear the carols. I can smell the Christmas lillies. These memories return every year, as time grows longer, becoming ever stronger.

But the Christmas I remember is a faded thing. As the churches have lost (or surrendered) their influence, so faith has left the festive season.

Christmas today is a strictly secular affair with scant public recognition of its religious roots. The establishment avoids them and the media simply ignores them.

Bad for business or just old hat, anything biblical is off the agenda. Those who run the fourth estate may argue that’s because fewer people say they’re Christian, to which the reply might be, maybe that’s because you’ve spent decades dismissing their beliefs.

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas day. . .

A few days ago I read a media release from a government entity (which I now can’t find) explaining how it’s sensitive to employees who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Fair enough, but sensitivity shouldn’t mean pretending it’s something else, especially when it’s not applied to celebrations for other religions.

No-one pretends that Diwali isn’t a Hindu festival, we’re not asked to skirt round, we shouldn’t be offended if someone wishes us happy Hanukkah so why the pussy-footing around Christmas?

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand and acknowledge the reason for the season.

You don’t have to believe what Christians do.

And Christian or not, we’d all be better off with more reflection on the real message of hope, joy, peace and love.


Fireworks restrictions racist?

30/10/2008

The Marlborough Express  laments the tight restrictions on the sale of fireworks prevents the Indian adding a sparkle to their Diwali festival.

Surely it’s racist to allow the sale of fireworks to enable people to mark Guy Fawkes, a celebration from one imported culture, and not Diwali, a festival from another?


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