Thursday, January 05, 2012

Holiday Economics: Philippine Holidays in 2012

The term "Holiday Economics" became famous I think during the past administration of former President Gloria Arroyo. The policy is that if a holiday falls on a weekend, the Monday after that becomes a holiday and hence, paid but non-working day. For personnel who have to work on that day, then that is considered as overtime and they get paid the equivalent of 2 days. Another practice is that if a Holiday falls on a Tuesday, holiday is moved to Monday so that people can extend their weekends to 3 days and work 4 days straight the next week.

1. January 21-23 (23, Monday, is Chinese New Year)

2. April 5-9 (Holy Week, April 9 Monday is "Araw ng Kagitingan")

3. April 28-30 (April 30 Monday will take the place of May 1 Labor Day)

4. August 18-21 (Aug. 20 Monday is Eid-al-Fitr, Aug. 21 Tuesday is Ninoy Aquino Day)

5. August 25-27 (Aug. 27 Monday is National Heroes Day)

6. October 26-28 (Oct. 26 Friday is Eid-al-Adha)

7. November 1-4 (Nov. 1-2, Thurs-Friday, are All Souls' and Saints’ Day)

8. November 30-Dec 2 (Nov. 30 Friday is Bonifacio Day)

9. December 22-25 (Dec. 24 and 25, Mon-Tues, are eve of, and Christmas Day)

10. December 29-Jan 1 (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, Mon-Tues, are New Year's Day)

11. City and/or Province Foundation Day. Some city and provincial governments declare this as a local holiday and hence, another non-working but paid day.

Total number of holidays on weekdays: 17.
That is equivalent to 2 1/2 weeks of working days.

One complaint of some businessmen is that there seems to be so many holidays. Holidays for the Holy Week, Christmas and New Year are understandable since this is a predominantly Catholic country. But extending the holidays nationwide to the start and end of the Ramadan, they say, is not fair since the Muslims comprise something like only 6 percent of the entire population.

For the informal sector, the policy of non-working but paid holidays normally does not apply. That policy applies only to businesses in the formal sector and those in all government offices, local and national.

There are government laws that entitle employees to leaves with pay, like vacation leaves (15 working days), sick leaves (15 working days). In certain government agencies, they have other leaves with pay on top of the two leaves mentioned, like "Legislative leaves" (15 working days) in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

So for lucky employees and personnel of those certain government agencies, they are enjoying 62 working days (17 + 15 + 15 + 15) or almost 3 months of paid leaves, on top of no work on weekends. So these people work only for nine months in a year and they get paid at least 14 months pay (12 + 13th month pay + Christmas bonus).

In the House of Representatives, when I was working there from 1991-99, we actually got 17 months pay. 12 months pay + midyear bonus (May) + "productivity bonus" 2 months (September and October) + 13th month pay (November) + Speaker's bonus (given on December). So we were paid 17 months pay for 9 months of work, cool. The Philippines is among those cool welfare states, at least for some lucky personnel in the government.

In other government agencies and corporations like the Supreme Court, Bangko Sentral (BSP), SSS and GSIS, I heard that they get something like 19 months pay or more, some of those bonuses are in kind, not in cash.

Back to Holiday economics. A compromise formula would be that government can declare all holidays but let the employers decide whether to give pay for some of those holidays or not. For employers who won't pay for some of those holidays, the employees may not report for work but they will suffer a pay cut at the end of that month.

This sounds "heartless" but personnel in the informal sector do not gripe about this practice. In an even worse situation are people who have no jobs at all, or have unstable and irregular work.

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