Some employees will not be compensated with an extra day of vacation leave for public holidays falling on weekends according to the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. The worse off will be those working on day in day out basis, as they might be missing out on all of the three public holidays falling on a weekend this year – May 1, the feast of The Assumption of Mary on August 15, and Christmas Day.

Confusion over the matter has been reigning from the moment it had been announced in the 2021 Budget, last October as there have been no less than three versions, all from official sources.   UHM Voice of the Workers has been seeking a clarification ever since but no reply was received by the time of writing.

The DIER version

This scenario is based on correspondence seen by Voice of the Workers Weekly in which the DIER states that “whenever a public holiday falls on any day of the week (from Monday to Sunday) and the full-time employee is not scheduled to work on such day (from midnight to midnight of such day of the Public Holiday) as part of the normal weekly roster (being an off day of the employee from midnight to midnight of such day), the equivalent in hours of one working day is to be added to the employee’s vacation leave entitlement”.

Consequently employee working on a public holiday or who is on ‘rest, day or night’ (in case of those working on shift basis), will not be eligible for the extra day of leave. This means that their annual leave allotment could be as low as 192 hours, in 2021 if they do not receive any extra day for public holidays falling on weekends. In this case their leave allotment would be 24 hours less than in 2020.

The Budget version

In the 2021 Budget speech Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has said that the leave entitlement this year would be increased by an additional day. This translated to 224 hours – an additional eight hours over and above the 216-hour total of 2020. However, government subsequently made a U-turn saying this would not apply for 2021.

Bill 186 version

The latest twist in this saga happened last Monday in Parliament when the government moved a Bill so that for every national or public holiday falling on a Saturday or on a Sunday, employees would be entitled to an extra day of leave. Under this mechanism the total leave allocation for 2021 would be the standard 192 hours plus three public holidays falling on a weekend – 216 hours.

Which mechanism shall apply?

The mind boggles as to which interpretation will apply whether that given in the Budget speech, the Bill being debated in parliament or the interpretation given by the Department of Industrial Relations and Employment.  In order to highlight the huge discrepancies, Voice of the Workers Weekly has taken various scenarios into account each based on different types of shifts. In each case we calculated the number of extra days of vacation leave for each permutation. As the tables indicate the worst-case scenario will apply if the DIER model is applied as it will be very difficult for employees to get an extra day of leave for all holidays falling on weekends. A clear direction on the matter beckons.

Annual hours of vacation leave in 2021 according to the three interpretations given so far – The Budget speech, the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations and Bill 186 which is being debated in parliament.

Type of roster Day/Off/Rest/Night

Type of roster Day/Night/Rest/OffMay 1Aug 15Dec 25DIERBudget SpeechBill 186

Type of roster 2-In/2-Out

Shift (as rostered on Jan 1, 2021)May 1Aug 15Dec 25DIERBudget SpeechBill 186

Type of roster Day In/Day Out

Shift (as rostered on Jan 1, 2021)May 1Aug 15Dec 25DIERBudget SpeechBill 186
Day In000192224216
Day Out111216224216

1 0 denotes no additional days of leave

2 1 denotes an additional day of leave