During the 2 years of working from home and travel restrictions, long weekends were often a non-event. For many office workers, working from home blurred the boundaries between work days and weekends/ holidays, which was exacerbated by the inability to travel. Perhaps, emails may slow down a little during the long weekends but often, the paucity of leisure activities meant that more workaholic amongst us continued working.
However, as the recent May Day and Hari Raya Puasa long weekend proved, the long weekend is back. 3-hour long queues at the Causeway, snaking lines at the Pulau Ubin ferry terminal and the disgruntled travellers waiting at the airport lounges are all signs that Singaporeans are back to our pre-pandemic routines as Singapore reopens.
With 4 more long weekends slated in 2022 (Vesak Day, Hari Raya Haji, Deepavali and Christmas Day), here’s a reminder of what employers and employees need to know about public holidays that fall on the weekend.
Public Holidays Are Mandatory Entitlements But Half Days On The Eve Are Not
All workers protected under the Employment Act are entitled to 11 public holidays. This includes celebratory events such as Christmas and New Year Day.
However, the common practice of half day on the eve of New Year’s Day is not a mandatory entitlement. This means that New Year’s Day (1 January 2023) which falls on Sunday will be a mandatory public holiday but the New Year’s Eve (31 December 2022) which falls on a Saturday which is a non-working day for workers on a 5-day work week will not be a paid (half) day off.
If The Public Holiday Falls On A Sunday, The Following Monday Will Be A Public Holiday
In Singapore, if a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the next day will automatically be a public holiday. This is because Sunday is considered a rest day. For the rest of 2022, this will happen for Vesak Day, Hari Raya Haji and Christmas Day.
If The Public Holiday Falls On A Saturday, There Is No Automatic Day Off
However, if the public holiday falls on a Saturday, there is no automatic public holiday. This is because Saturday is considered a non-working day. Instead, employees will be given an extra day off or one extra day’s salary in lieu of the public holiday.
Depending on company policy, the day off may be administered as an off-in-lieu (which can be taken with the same flexibility as annual leave) or a day determined by the company (e.g. the next working day after the public holiday).
Employers And Employees Need To Be Sensible And Sensitive About Long Weekends
Aside from mandatory entitlements, employers and employees should be considerate to each other about long weekends. While many Singaporeans may try to maximise their annual leaves to coincide with long weekends, leave approval still remains the employers’ prerogative.
Likewise, employers can exercise consideration when it comes to planning workloads during long weekends. It may not be reasonable to expect the same level of output in a week with public holidays or the same level of responsiveness during a long weekend.
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