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Manpower minister addresses 'too many holidays' debate: Collective leave is optional

Jakarta Globe - May 21, 2024

Hendro Dahlan Situmorang, Alfida Rizky Febrianna, Jakarta – Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah has addressed the ongoing debate about the impact of "too many holidays" on Indonesia's competitiveness and workforce productivity.

When asked whether the government would consider reducing the number of long holidays, she clarified that collective leave is an optional policy granted by employers to their workers.

"Regarding the leave, I believe it is facultative (not mandatory). It depends on the mutual agreement within the company," she said at the Parliament Building in Jakarta on Monday.

Ida also highlighted that long holidays, including national holidays and collective leave, can spur economic growth by boosting tourism. "Many workers or Indonesians use their holidays to visit tourist destinations," she added.

In Indonesia, there are 17 national holidays and 10 days of collective leave for workers in 2024. In comparison, Vietnam only has 13 national holidays. This week, for example, workers will have a Vesak holiday on Thursday, followed by collective leave on Friday, and then the weekend before going back to work on Monday.

Tourism expert and former Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sapta Nirwandar suggested that long holidays and collective leave should only be granted during major religious celebrations, such as Eid al Fitr and Christmas.

He explained that extended holidays during these times facilitate transportation, reduce congestion, and manage peak travel periods for workers returning to their hometowns and visiting tourist spots. Given the large number of people involved, proper holiday management is essential.

"Not all holidays or public holidays should have collective leave. If implemented, many companies and institutions in the country could go bankrupt. In my opinion, the long holiday policy with collective leave needs to be reconsidered; otherwise, the country could face difficulties," he asserted.

For regular holidays that are not religious celebrations, Sapta suggested they need not be regulated or could even be reduced. This would ensure workers maintain their productivity.

"If all public holidays are combined with long collective leave, Indonesia's productivity will decline further, impacting competitiveness and worker productivity," he warned.

In developed countries, workers typically do not work on weekends because they work hard from Monday to Friday. However, in countries with unstable conditions like Indonesia, some still work on Saturdays to cover daily living expenses. Therefore, long holiday regulations must be carefully considered.

"This is very challenging for industrial and manufacturing companies that have to bear long holidays. So, not all holidays should be generalized. Holidays cost money. If there are too many holidays, where will the money come from?" Sapta said.

However, Sapta acknowledged that numerous holidays and collective leave can boost the tourism and entertainment sectors. Many Indonesian tourists use the 3-4 day holidays and collective leave to travel abroad, visiting countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Turkey, and others.

"However, this only applies to the upper-middle class. This benefits those who can afford to travel, especially now that people prefer to travel rather than save for a house or property for the future. This contrasts with previous eras when people immediately wanted to buy a house and vehicle after starting work," Sapta observed.

He believes this policy needs to be reevaluated as it only benefits one sector – tourism. "The upper class, which is now relatively large, prefers to travel abroad rather than to domestic destinations like Labuan Bajo, Ternate, Tidore, Papua, and Maluku because of the high ticket prices," Sapta concluded.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/manpower-minister-addresses-too-many-holidays-debate-collective-leave-is-optiona