People who think they only need three days’ leave between Christmas and New Year’s Day are in for a shock — they actually need to apply for four.
Thousands of calendars printed by Johannesburg-based company, Imagine 121, have erroneously marked Tuesday December 27 as a public holiday in the mistaken belief that because Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill fall on a Sunday and Monday respectively, “the Tuesday must automatically be one too”.
A spokesperson for Imagine 121 said that the marking of the Tuesday as a public holiday was an error that was only picked up after the print run of thousands of calendars that had been distributed to companies throughout the country.
“Oddly enough, you are the first person to query it. We have had no complaints from any of our customers”, the spokesperson said.
Many South African companies traditionally shut down or work with skeleton staff levels from December 16 to the first week of January. The week between Christmas and New Year is usually given to staff as leave but the days between the public holidays have to be approved as official leave.
A call for goodwill
Gordon Metter, deputy president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said while the issue may seem trivial, it can cause stress in the workplace when employees suddenly find they have one less day of leave than they originally thought.
“We have had some queries about this and the fact is that many people take a calendar as gospel. Employers must make it very clear to employees that it was not their decision not to make the Tuesday a public holiday,” he said.
Cosatu Western Cape Provincial Secretary Tony Ehrenreich said: “If the workers see it as a public holiday then they must take it. However, I do suggest that goodwill be used on both sides when negotiating the issue.”
Ian Ollis, the Democratic Alliance’s shadow minister of labour, also called for goodwill in the negotiations between employers and employees and pointed out that only the President has the powers to declare a public holiday “… and not a calendar”.
South Africa has 12 public holidays and those that are considered the most disruptive to business — particularly the manufacturing sector — are those that fall on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
“Those days break the working week as people use them to take long weekends”, Metter said.
He said the Cape Chamber is on record requesting that government consider allowing public holidays to fall only on a Monday or Friday, and that it should consider reducing the number of public holidays.
In 2012 three public holidays fall in the middle of the week — Human Rights Day on March 21, Workers’ Day on May 1 and National Women’s Day on August 9. — I-Net Bridge