5-day-week workers to lose 4 days of holiday

With public holidays falling on a Saturday, white-collar workers will miss out in 2015

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2014, 5:37am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2014, 6:04am

Employees working a five-day week will lose four days of holiday next year as they fall on a Saturday.

According to the government's announcement on general holidays in 2015, four out of 17 will be on a Saturday. They are: the third day of the Lunar New Year; the day following Good Friday; Tuen Ng festival; and Boxing Day.

This will affect so-called white-collar workers who have a five-day working week, as holidays falling on Sundays are compensated for under the law with another day off - but not those on Saturdays, unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said.

Blue-collar workers are not affected as they usually work six days, including Saturdays.

In the five years from 2011 to 2015, workers on a five-day week have lost 15 days of general holidays because they have fallen on Saturdays.

This year, three holidays land on a Saturday.

Although the white-collar staff may be unhappy about the loss, compensating them would further widen the gap between them and the blue-collar workers, Lee said.

He estimated that out of the 3.7 million-strong workforce in the city, more than a million receive only the 12 statutory public holidays - which exclude five other "bank holidays", including Good Friday and Boxing Day.

These tend to be the same people who work six days a week and endure long hours, especially those in cleaning, catering, transport, retail and other service industries.

"If white collars on a five-day week got Monday off to compensate for the loss on Saturday, it would mean three days of holiday in total," he said. "On the other hand, blue collars would still need to work on both that Saturday and on Monday [when it was not a statutory holiday]."

The government should increase the number of statutory holidays in Hong Kong to 17, so all workers would be entitled to every public holiday, he urged.

On the other hand, white-collar staff who want to travel abroad will be happy about next year's Easter break.

Due to the proximity of the Ching Ming festival and Easter holidays, they will be able to enjoy five days of holiday from April 3 to 7 without taking any annual leave. Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung expected more people to go on longer trips to Europe, Australia or even Africa.

"It will definitely help [outbound tourism]," he said. "This year people only went on short trips as Ching Ming and Easter holidays were apart."