Worshipping time off

Most Aussies would consider our workplaces a living hell if we did not have so much time off and enjoy so many holidays. Apologies here to small business operators for whom such a concept is entirely alien: but somebody has to keep the nation running!

Our fetish for holidays is deeply ingrained but perhaps it’s time we examined whether our time off might be organised in a different way. Consider the madness and mayhem that happens at shopping centres each Christmas, Easter and other breaks.

The frenzied rush to spend, spend, spend, even when the shops are only going to be closed for a day, indicates a deeply disturbed national psyche. Some people need to be saved from themselves and perhaps we should do that by rearranging our holidays.

One possible approach is to scrap our existing public holidays but give workers a slate of six days’ recreational leave which they could take at a time of their own choosing (subject to reasonable employer approval) throughout the year.

This concept assumes additional impetus when we consider Australia is a truly multicultural society these days. Why should we continue to honour Christian holy days exclusively? Why shouldn’t the Buddhists, the Muslims and others be given similar recognition? Indeed, it could be held to be discriminatory if we continue to recognise Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Christmas Day to the exclusion of other events such as the Passover and Ramadan.

(I’ll bet by now I’ve got the attention of some folks!)

What adds piquancy to this notion is that constitutionally we are a secular nation and should be celebrating occasions that have resonance for the whole community not just sections of it.

On which basis, we could consider letting sun worshippers laze on the beaches or wine worshippers indulge their own homage to Bacchus. Who’s to say their fervor and commitment to their beliefs is any less valid than those who choose another ‘god’?

The key concept here is that we consider giving workers a few days a year to celebrate as they see fit whatever it is they hold ‘holy’ and by whatever means they think appropriate.

Two-thirds of the male population would probably just plonk themselves in front of the telly and watch sport but, hey, who says that’s not justifiable? The concept of change is always daunting but that does not mean our existing system of public holidays could not be improved.

Hmmm . . . I think I hear Bacchus calling me now. Is the sun over the yard arm yet? I’ll just call the boss and let her know I won’t be in today.