Government must force through five-day week for everyone

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am

The government has adopted the five-day working week for civil servants and it is about time this practice was enforced in the business sector.

Working Saturdays is unproductive and a waste of resources. Employees are tired, stressed and overworked. They are never given a real chance to rest. This can result in chronic illness. Days are lost through sickness. Having a two-day weekend works in the west where workers come back to the office on a Monday feeling refreshed.

As you leave work on a Friday evening, you can really feel you have escaped the office and the pressures of work. Little is achieved on a Saturday anyway. More often than not employees turn up, chat, eat, check their emails, do a bit of non-urgent work, surf the net and then leave. All the time they are using lights, computers, printers, photocopiers, and air-conditioning, all of which harm the environment.

Also, all these people going to work on a Saturday, travel by various means, clog up the roads and cause more pollution. Of course, people on their day off, may travel by MTR and bus, but many will opt to stay closer to home. The quality of life is better for those working a five-day week. Many people enjoy going out on a Friday night but the prospect of going to the office the next day puts a dampener on any social activities.

As for family life, Hong Kong children barely see their parents. Saturday is a valuable family day which should be spent together. Moreover many schools organise the parents' day and school performances on a Saturday. Working parents have to miss them or apply for annual leave, which in Hong Kong is less than generous.

Hong Kong employers enforce the 5.5-day week out of tradition and simply because they can, possibly because the mainland factories are at work. However, the overseas clients are not, so what's the point?

Like the minimum wage, nothing will happen if the government just issues a recommendation. It must enforce the five-day week through legislation or tax incentives. Let the weekend start on Friday evening, it's better for all.

Jane Lee, Tuen Mun