The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) has sent President Jacob Zuma a letter requesting an additional public holiday for next year, since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday becomes a public holiday – but the Monday following Christmas Sunday is already a public holiday, being the Day of Goodwill. That's why Fedusa wants an extra public holiday.

SA vs other countries
According to Sanjeev Orie, spokesperson for FNB Head of Business Acquisitions, the first comparison that needs to be made is with other countries and the number of public holidays they have. “The countries with higher numbers of public holidays, typically Asian countries, such as China with around 15 days in the past year compared to SA with 11, are the ones with exceptionally higher productivity ratios. They typically can afford the additional number of public holidays, since wage rates are lower and their productivity significantly higher that SA,” says Orie.

The impact on the economy and business owners
According to an economist at one of the four leading banks, the implications are limited, but generally negative from a business owner’s point of view. Many sales will be merely pushed forward or back, eg when you want to buy a car and the dealer is closed, you go back the next day. But some sales may be lost forever, eg if you close your shop while your neighbour keeps his open, you will lose sales that day.

How can business owners offset financial losses incurred by public holidays?
In factories, the loss in profit is often partially made up by higher productivity during the rest of the week. If output for the business is normally 100 in a five-day week, in a four-day week the output usually would be 80. If the holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, absenteeism on a Monday or Friday will also have an impact. It is difficult for business owners to offset the losses, but in the great scheme of things, they should be negligible.

Do you think we need another public holiday?