Choose when to take stat holidays?


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.

Great summer shut-down getting longer


Christmas is used as a date by which we aim to get things done.

Sometimes it’s a self-imposed deadline, sometimes it’s because we know if it’s not done before Christmas it won’t be done until early January at best.

The requirement to get things done by or before December 24th is even more important now that the great summer shut-down is getting longer with many businesses staying closed for an extra week.

The norm used to be about a fortnight from Christmas Eve and most businesses were back at work by the second week in January.

Since annual leave entitlements were extended to four weeks it’s not uncommon for businesses to close for an extra week. It’s easier to shut the office or factory altogether than have people taking another couple of weeks at odd times through the year with resulting disruption and pressure that puts on remaining staff.

Research by Mercer shows New Zealand has among the highest levels of statutory holiday entitlement in the Asia Pacific region but fewer holidays than the majority of Western Europe.

Western European employees, on average, have access to the greatest amount of statutory paid holiday in the world, in contrast to employees in the Asia Pacific region, which has the lowest levels. Japan, Australia and New Zealand offer 20 days of statutory holiday entitlement. This compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Pakistan which provides 14 days followed by India and Indonesia (both 12) and China (10), Thailand (6) and the Philippines (5) offer the region’s lowest holiday entitlement.

I wonder what part more generous leave entitlements play in the economic mess in Europe?

Everyone needs holidays for the sake of their physical and mental health. The five to 14 days offered by some of our Asian neighbours wouldn’t be tolerated here, and nor should it.

However, not all workers here want 20 days – four weeks – annual leave on top of the 11 statutory holidays to which they’re entitled and they can choose to take a week’s extra pay in lieu of the fourth week.

Deprived or oversupplied?


The headline says New Zealanders holiday deprived

It’s a story on the annual vacation deprivation survey which found 42% of New Zealanders failed to take all the annual leave to which they were entitled and the report says:

New Zealanders received an average of 21 annual leave days from their employer in the past year, but took only 18 days, the survey found.

Of the surveyed countries, New Zealanders were given the fifth-fewest annual leave days by their employers.

Received? Given? What about requested?

There is a difference. Four weeks annual leave has been the minimum entitlement since April 1, 2007. If employers haven’t been offering their staff the legal minimum, or have prevented them from taking it,  they’ve broken the law.

But is that the case or have workers chosen not to take their full entitlement?

Half of New Zealanders said they wanted to carry over their holidays to use the following year, while a third said work commitments were too great to take a break.

Half of those supposedly holiday-deprived appear to have chosen to postpone their leave, presumably to have a longer break, the following year.

As for those who say work commitments are too great, is that their choice or their employers’ requirement because if it’s the latter, again the employer would be breaking the law.

The report doesn’t mention statutory holidays either. New Zealanders are entitled to 11 of these each year and if they are requried to work on a stat. day they get a day off in lieu so those who took only 18 days annual leave ought to have had a total of 29 days off.

Four of the stat. days fall over the Christmas-New Year period so it’s possible to have three weeks away from work but, taking in weekends and stat. days, use only 11 days of the annual holiday entitlement. Two come at Easter and if you add a couple of weekends plus Good Friday and Easter Monday you get a 10 day break that uses only five days’ leave.

Time for  quiz:

1) Are New Zealanders really holiday deprived or do they choose not to take their full entitlement?

2) Is it relevant that the survey was conducted by an on-line travel company?

3) If the answer to 2 is yes is the story an example of spam journalism: The spurious use of sensational headlines to add spice to an otherwise pointless article. (MacDoctor definition)?

Animals don’t stop for holidays


The Green Party’s industrial relations  policy was released yesterday and Sue Bradford  shows in commenting on it that she doesn’t understand how the economy works:

“Low paid workers and their families should not be left to unfairly carry the costs of climate change, rising fuel and food prices and the fall out from the US subprime crisis. . .

Um – who supported the legislation for the Emissions Trading Scheme that will impose more costs on everyone without reducing emissions? And where do employers get the extra money for higher wages when they too face higher costs that reduce the profits that are needed to pay the higher wages?

The Greens also wants another public holiday between Queens Birthday and Labour weekend.

There is no need for that. People are free to take a day from the generous entitlement already enshrined in law and tack it on to any weekend which suits them without adding another statutory holiday with the extra costs associated with it.


New Zealand already has 11 statutory holidays and four weeks annual leave which amounts to six working weeks off work.


Some firms shut down completely over the Christmas break so everyone is away at once, but not every business can do that so most of the holidays are taken in dribs and drabs over the course of the year.


If you employ four people you’ve got the equivalent of someone away every day for nearly half the year which puts an extra load on those still on deck; if you employ more than that you need an extra employee to cover for those on holiday.


We can’t tell our cows to stop producing milk on the eve of a long weekend and start again when the holiday’s over. So someone has to milk them, the milk has to be picked up and processed and the cost of doing all that is increased because workers are entitled to be paid time and a half if they work on a holiday.


We could organise things so we didn’t send stock to the freezing works on holidays, but if we did that the freezing workers would have nothing to kill when they resumed work the following day. And regardless of whether or not we’re sending stock away there’s other work to be done and those doing it on a holiday have to be paid extra to do it.


So we have to keep on doing what we do, seven days a week, holiday or not, but it would be better not just for us but the wider economy if we could carry on doing it without the added costs of another statutory holiday.


Some of the extra cost of the extra day’s holiday would be absorbed by the business but eventually some would get passed on to the consumers, most of whom will be workers who will then want a wage increase . . .





Paycation beats staycation


National’s proposal to allow workers to trade their fourth weeks holiday for cash has attracted criticism from the usual suspects.

But our holdiay provision is generous – four weeks leave plus 11 statutory days which add up to another couple of working weeks away from work. 

That means a business employing five people has someone on holiday for more than half a year. Some businesses shut down completely so everyone has their holidays together, but that’s not possible for most. Some end up needing another person to cover those on holiday and if that’s not possible or practical other staff have to carry the load when workmates are on leave.

Another point critics of National’s policy don’t take into account is that not everyone wants all that time off. Time away from work is important for mental and physical helath, but four weeks holidays plus the 11 stat days is more than some people want or can afford.

Some people actually like going to work – a director of an agrcultural supply company told me that one of their long-serving employees was owed more than a year in holdiays and in spite of persuasion from the CEO he didn’t want to use them.

And some people don’t want a fourth week because it’s expensive – they live from pay day to pay day and can’t afford to leave home for a holiday so they’re forced to stay at home. There’s nothing wrong with holidaying at home by choice but if you do it from financial necessity it’s not so much a vacation as a staycation.

These people will benefit if National’s proposal is enacted because they’ll get an extra week’s pay – so they’ll have a paycation.

No-one will be forced to take the money rather than the holiday – the whole point of this policy is choice. Those who want a break can still have it and those who don’t can take the money- there is nothing for workers to fear in that.

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