Make the most of public holidays

Arguably, one of the best things about spring in South Africa — apart from the pleasant weather and the abundance of Easter eggs — is the public holidays!

Many people in South Africa work very hard. Legislation regarding the Basic Conditions of Employment dictate that employees are entitled to 21 consecutive days of annual paid leave, which equates to only 15 working days per year if you work a five-day week, and 18 working days per year if you work a six-day week.

Unfortunately, this isn’t very much compared to many other countries. You may be interested to know that most employees who work a five-day week in England are entitled to at least 28 days of paid annual leave per year, which is equivalent to 5.6 weeks of holiday. However, there’s no use crying over our lot, and there’s not always much we can do about South African legislation. We simply need to make the most of our entitlements, and we can start by being savvy when it comes to how and when we take our leave.

The good news is that there are more public holidays in South Africa than many other countries. And the steady flow of national days in March, April and May make for the perfect excuse to unplug and step away from the daily grind. Already a quarter of the way through the year, you’re in luck if you feel in need of a long break because you can start getting ready for a 17-day holiday that will only use up about half of the basic annual leave.

With a bit of forward thinking, you can really make the most of the sunshine and public holidays at the start of spring. Combined with weekends, Human Rights Day on Wednesday, 21st March, Good Friday on Friday, 30th March and Family Day on Monday, 2nd April mean that if you leave on the evening of Friday, 16th March and return on the evening of Monday, 2nd April, you can turn on your Out-of-Office for 17 glorious days, whilst only needing to apply for eight days of leave. You can start back fresh at work on the morning of Tuesday, 3rd April, with a contented grin on your face, knowing you’ve managed your time and entitlements well.

Don’t despair if you have children and need to fit in with school holidays, as you can still get a good run by going away on the evening of Thursday, 29th March and returning to work on Monday, 9th April. This will make use of Good Friday and Family Day, giving you a 10-day holiday, while only needing to take four days off from work.

And if that weren’t enough, you can also make the most of a lovely long weekend at the end of April — perhaps this could be spent as a romantic couple’s break that would give you and your loved one the chance to spend some quality time together. This year, Friday, 27th April is Freedom Day and Tuesday, 1st May is Worker’s Day, so if you take the initiative to book Monday, 30th April off work, you can kick back and enjoy a five-day break, while only needing to use one day of annual leave.

If you use the time wisely, you stand to get 22 days off work in March and April for just 9 days of annual leave! Once you’ve had the nod of approval, all that remains is to decide where you want to go – or if you even want to go anywhere. Although it is possible to find some great last-minute deals, you could stand to save money and precious holiday time if you make a few preparations and bookings beforehand. So pack your slops and start planning!

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