Colombia Leads World in Public Holidays

Looking to get more time off? Move to Colombia. Renowned for its high murder rate, this Andean nation also leads the world in public holidays with 18 each year. Second-place Slovenia has 16, while Slovakia, Cyprus and Chile have 15 each, according to a ne

Colombia Leads World in Public Holidays
The United States has 10 federal holidays.

As overworked Americans bemoan their shrinking leisure time, a month rarely passes in Colombia without a three-day weekend.

Most of the holidays -- mandatory for both public and private-sector employees -- pay homage to Roman Catholic saints.

But don't ask Colombians which ones.

Most are blissfully ignorant of what allows them to pack their car trunks for the beach or mountains for yet another "puente," Spanish for "bridge" and Colombian for three-day weekend.

So much loafing around takes a toll on the economy.

Every June, which can cram in as many as three "puentes" depending on the year, factory and business output ebbs even while workers continue to collect their regular pay.

"There's no doubt this crushes productivity and increases costs for business," said Juan Carlos Echeverry, an economics professor at Andes University in Bogota. "But maybe it's the reason in survey after survey Colombians are always rated among the happiest people in the world."

Thanks to a 1983 law designed to stimulate domestic tourism, the bulk of the religious holidays are moved to the following Monday, even when they fall on a weekend.

Poorly paid street merchants, security guards, taxi drivers and those among the ranks of Colombia's vast informal economy do not take the days off.

Nor does workaholic President Alvaro Uribe, who this week even during a rare "vacation" is engaged in outdoor chores at his cattle ranch. An effort last year to overturn the 1983 law, by a senator loyal to Uribe, went nowhere.

But Colombia is hardly a workers' paradise.

Union leaders are subject to regular intimidation or worse. More than 800 were murdered over the past six years, mainly by right-wing paramilitaries.

And while three-day weekends may be great breathers for fatigued office workers, they are no substitute for long vacations.

For that, you'll want to consider Finland or France, which according to Mercer lead the world with 30 paid vacation days a year.

In that department, Colombia doesn't rate. It has just 15.

U.S. law, by comparison does not require paid vacation days for employees.

AP
Last Mod: 02 Ağustos 2007, 12:01
Add Comment