Jack Nicholson’s character in ‘The Shining’ immortalized the old adage: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The proverb describes the importance of having a respite from strenuous activity or risk ruining oneself. If we hold that to be true, can we assume that having too much rest can pose negative consequences as well?
Just this week, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill making the Immaculate Conception – a Catholic holiday celebrated every December 8 – a special non-working holiday. That will add to the abundant number of holidays the country already has, which in 2016 was at 19 days. That puts the Philippines among countries with the most number of public holidays in the world, only India and Sri Lanka had more holidays at 21 and 25 days respectively.
Previous governments tend to endorse the high number of public holidays as a positive, citing more time for workers to recuperate and to return to their place of work after visiting their home provinces as well as encouraging domestic tourism. All these points have merits, but at the same time they ignore the negative impact excessive rest days can have on the economy as well.
The most obvious aspect being a decrease in productivity. Constantly giving workers rest days means production ceases quite often too, this hinders our manufacturing industry to meet deadlines on time. Also, the services industry – which includes the bullish BPO sector – also face recurring disruptions which makes them unattractive to potential clients. All these point to negative economic effects for our country desperately trying to lure in foreign investors.
Then there’s also the negative consequence it has on the financial sector. All financial transactions that go through our country requires processing, unfortunately the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP; the country’s central bank) operates like a desk clerk which requires workers to manually authorize these transactions. If the BSP is closed for the time being because of a holiday then these transactions will be put on hold and wait for the next working day – thus making potential investors impatient.
The observance of holidays – especially those with national significance – is important to boost cultural awareness and as aforementioned, to boost domestic tourism and familial bond. These holidays can be tolerable and in fact, even beneficial if spread evenly throughout the year. But an excessive number of rest days can hurt the country economically, and at a time when our economic development is on an upward trajectory we cannot let too much rest derail our path towards a prosperous future.