I’m no workaholic – I put in extra hours when there’s a big project on, but I’m not one of those people who calls the office when they’re on holiday or sneaks off during birthday parties to check work emails. I like holidays OK? Long weekends are the best! But…
I’m starting to wonder about the situation here in Brazil. We had a public holiday a couple of weeks ago (great!), today is also a holiday (OK…) and also next Tuesday (seriously?). I’m struggling to get a definitive answer, but it looks like Brazil has somewhere between 13 and 16 national public holidays, and Rio has its own “Founding of Rio” holiday too.
Regardless of what the exact figure is, that’s a lot of days off work! For comparison’s sake, the US has 11 public holidays, the UK has just 8. Now I don’t mean to be a big party pooper here, but I have been discovering recently just how expensive these public holidays are.
On a ‘micro’ level, they are costing me personally – I get paid by the day so as the third holiday in 3 weeks approaches I am starting to count the cost.
Looking at things on a ‘macro’ level, the UK had an extra public holiday this year to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond jubilee and reports say that it cost the country £1.2 billion (R$3.9bn / US$1.9bn) in lost productivity. They say that this made a very significant dent in the nations struggling economy (though this may have been partially offset by a boost in retail spending of £400).
The number of holidays is not the only way that Brazil does things differently. To someone who grew up in England, the way that Brazil manages its holidays also seems a little strange. This country takes its holidays where they fall – if that happens to be a Thursday then so be it – you have a rather weird week at work coming up!
And there’s a flip-side – if the holiday lands on a Saturday or Sunday – unlucky! Brazil has just one public holiday for Christmas and last year the 25th fell on a Sunday. The result? Christmas was the weekend, nothing else! I went to work on Friday, had Christmas, then went back to work on Monday. I felt extremely sorry for myself (even though everyone else in the nation was experiencing the same thing).
What do you think about this? Doesn’t it seem fairer to move holidays to everyone’s most hated day (Monday)? Wouldn’t a cut in holidays mean a massive boost to Brazil’s economy?
[Full disclosure: I am possibly being a Holiday Grinch today because I have to work (because of my UK employer) when everyone else has the day off]