A plan that would have allowed employees in Macau to enjoy mandatory holidays might have to wait. The city’s Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs (SCCSA), which is responsible for providing input on draft legislation related to labor issues that are sent to Macau’s Legislative Assembly, has recommended that the issue be put on the back burner. According to Lionel Leong Vai Tac, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, it is only a suggestion and would only be a temporary postponement, not a permanent move.
The amended legislation seeks to change the Labour Relations Law in Macau that would allow an employee, either through a written agreement between the worker and the employer, to allocate three mandatory holidays in the year as standard work days. Alternatively, the employee would be able to designate three non-mandatory holidays that would be “mandatory” leave.
The measure was raised because Macau’s busiest times of the year are holidays. This is when it needs the most staff and most employers were said to be behind the suggested alternatives. However, a number of labor groups viewed at as a restriction of their rights, given that the holidays are when they, too, want to spend time with their families and friends.
Leong made his remarks to the media following a closed-door meeting with the advisory committee that lasted three hours. The decision to postpone further discussion on the measure was reached “unanimously” due to its “hugely divisive” nature.
The SCCSA is comprised of local government representatives, the Macao Chamber of Commerce and the Macao Federation of Trade Unions. Among these groups’ members are several labor groups who have opposed the holiday scheme out of fear that their employers would try to coerce them into work agreements for the mandatory holidays. This, they argue, would result in the employees receive compensatory leave packages that are not as desirable as what they are able to receive under current laws.
Macau has 20 public holidays. 10 are mandatory holidays and include, in order, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day, the second and third day of the Lunar New Year, Cheng Ming Festival, Labour Day, the day following Mid-Autumn Festival, China’s National Day, Chong Yeung Festival and the Macau SAR Establishment Day.