IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Eight long weekends to enjoy next year

This story was originally published in The Straits Times on April 11. 

LET the leave planning begin.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released public holiday dates for next year on Wednesday, which revealed that eight long weekends can be enjoyed with just four days of leave.

Four out of the 11 holidays fall on Friday, Sunday or Monday, yielding four long weekends - the first day of Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.

Taking another four days of leave bring the count up to eight. These would be the days before or after Vesak Day, Labour Day, Deepavali and Christmas, which all fall on Tuesday or Thursday.

Public holidays falling on a Sunday mean that the next day - Monday - will be the day off.

However, there are no four- day weekends next year, as there are this year with Hari Raya Puasa on Thursday, Aug 8; and National Day on Friday, Aug 9.

"Long weekends are great, especially since I started working," said Ms Aditi Shivaramakrishnan, 24. "There are good travel budget deals for nearby countries. There are a lot of fun things to do here as well," said the editorial assistant, who went to Vietnam with friends during this year's Good Friday break.

The number of public holidays that fall on Friday, Sunday or Monday next year - four - is roughly the average number in recent years. There are five this year, up from four the year before. There were two in 2011 and a bumper crop of six in 2010.

Still, these stretches of holidays are not ideal for some with family or social obligations.

"I know many people take Chinese New Year off but it's difficult for me to," said pre-school teacher Wong Yim Ching, 48. "I only get to see my cousins once a year and it's a family tradition to have lunch together on the second day. If I take off (on holiday), my parents will be left in the lurch."

Deepavali next year is slated to be on Oct 23, a Thursday, but is subject to change when the Indian almanac becomes available.

This year, it was shifted from Nov 3 to Nov 2. This moves the public holiday from a Monday to a Saturday, said MOM yesterday.

Employees not required to work on Saturdays can claim a day off or compensation for that public holiday, if covered under the Employment Act. Two public holidays next year fall on a Saturday: National Day and the second day of the Chinese New Year.

The full list of next year's public holidays is available online at www.mom.gov.sg

charyong@sph.com.sg