Not all will get to take time off for SG50

The extra public holiday on Aug 7 this year will bring cheer to workers, but businesses that stay open will have to pay more in wages.

Bosses in traditionally labour-intensive industries such as retail and food and beverage say they are prepared to pay up to double the usual wages.

"For the retail side, we will have to get staff to come back because it is not an option to close when people are shopping," said Mr Andy Chaw, chief executive of sports and fashion footwear retailer and distributor Star 360.

Some may even need extra manpower. Shops like Bakery Cuisine and Juz Bread, for instance, are planning special products and promotions. "We will pay workers double pay for overtime to encourage them to come back to work," said Mr Ken Seng Guan, managing director of Bakery Cuisine.

But bosses hope the brisk business over the four-day weekend of nationwide SG50 celebrations will make up for it.

TungLok Group executive chairman Andrew Tjioe said: "In F&B, we welcome the longer holiday because it means more people will have the time to celebrate, and when they are celebrating they will probably spend money, so it is good for restaurants."

The rates for part-time staff will be higher, but likely not as high as during the Chinese New Year period, when companies had to pay workers almost double the market rate to get them to commit for the entire 15-day period, said Mr Tjioe.

In this instance, an increase of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent for part-time staff is expected.

Manufacturers, on the other hand, may not have to call their employees back to work as there is enough lead time to plan production schedules around the holiday.

"As long as our employees don't take a long break and join it to the previous or following week, we can plan around it," said Mr Mark Yong, marketing director of furniture systems manufacturer Ewins.

Manufacturers also hope for understanding from clients, given the significance of the celebrations. "Since it is a national holiday, our local customers will also be on holiday and our overseas customers will understand when we tell them the holiday has been declared for this historic occasion," said Mr Tony Foo, director at precision engineering firm Bulox Corporation.

The five months of lead time should be enough for companies to adjust, human resource experts said.

Companies can organise functions to encourage staff to stay in town for that period instead of going overseas, suggested Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan.

He added: "Local hotels can have special packages and promotions and restaurants can have festive menus to make staying in Singapore more interesting and colourful."


This article was first published on Mar 21, 2015.
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