Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Scrooge – Part 1: how many days off are enough at Christmas?


Well, we hate to bring up the specter of Ebenezer Scrooge, but we do have to question the strikingly different experiences of private sector workers vs. government ones – at this time of year and so many others.

Christmas Day falls on Saturday this year.

So for many businesses, especially those that aren’t even open on Saturday, there really isn’t much added expense; a holiday on a weekend usually absorbs most of whatever increased costs businessmen and women may normally award to their employees for the holiday.

But not for government.

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No, it seems that when Christmas falls on the weekend, as it does this year, such a calendar merely provides an opportunity for most government workers to get even more paid time off.

Don’t try to reach many government services Thursday, Friday, or Monday.

It seems that many will be closed in order to provide three days off – with pay, of course.

From the taxpayers, of course.

The three days off are apparently sacrosanct even when the holiday falls on a weekend and government workers are already off from their weekday work routines.

So county government, and many local city governments, will be closed down on Thursday, Friday, and even Monday.

Now even a modern-day Scrooge might concede that it’s reasonable to let employees off on Christmas Eve, when it falls on Friday.

But Thursday?

And Monday?

What’s the justification for those?

We don’t mean to begrudge the extra days off for government workers so much as to draw the contrast – yet again – with the more practical and less lenient experience of private companies.

Unlike government, business owners, small and large, have to assess the benefits and costs of giving paid time off on or around the Christmas holiday. They have to look at their finances to see how much they can afford.

They have to consider how their operations will continue, either short-staffed or with none at all.

What will be the effect on productivity?

On deliveries? On their customers?

Perhaps the extra paid days off for government employees demonstrate a corollary point that “productivity,” however, measured for government workers, is not much affected by whether they’re on the job or not.

Still, the financial strain on the private sector is great.

At any rate, we’ll certainly think of them on Thursday and Monday, when most of the rest of us will, invariably, be working.

It seems to us there ought to be more similarity between the two types of employers.

We’ve done a very unscientific sampling among various local private employers and employees over the past few weeks, and we haven’t found any with as generous a policy on paid days off as juxtaposed to what government affords.

In any event, it seems to us that we’ve come an awfully long way from the days of the real Scrooge, at least the one in A Christmas Carol, who begrudged giving Bob Cratchit even a few extra hours off on Christmas Day – that is, when Christmas (that year) fell on a workday.

It seems to us that there ought to be more similarity between the paid holidays and other benefits of those in the private sector who are constantly being asked to foot the bill for the salaries of the public sector who are the beneficiaries of the taxes collected from the private sector.

Surely, there’s a limit to the burden that businesses, especially small businesses, can shoulder to support the lifestyle of government employees.

Scrooge – Part 2: how many raises are enough for public employees

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