Of bridges, viaducts, and other holidays

A favourite song with ‘Holiday’ in the title

France’s 11 national public holidays (jours fériés) each year is a bit over the European average. But since any French public holiday falling on a Saturday/Sunday is lost – and not ‘transferred’ (as in many countries) to the next working day – life isn’t quite so different (public-holiday-wise) to most neighbours.

However a long-standing tradition (for those with a Mon-Fri regime) is to faire le pont (make a bridge), through taking an extra day off work when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, thus having a really long weekend. Just one day’s leave from work by way of your pont, gets you a 4 day weekend. Some organisations even agree with their works councils that a particular pont should be taken as holiday by all employees, and the organisation closes that day.

While 2017’s calendar allowed the creation of almost no 4-day weekends, this Merry Merry Month of May has been very different.

4 public holidays are celebrated in May [May 1, Fête du Travail or International Workers Day (the only public holiday employers are obliged to grant); May 8, End of WW2 in Europe; the Christian festivals of Ascension and Pentecost]. Unusually, this year, none of those 4 days has fallen on a Saturday or Sunday … three being on either Tuesday or Thursday. Hence the possibility of ponts galore.

Indeed, this week, there’s been a still more unusual phenomenon. Both Tuesday 8 and Thursday 10 are férié, so the adept Monday-Friday worker will not only have taken both Monday 7 and Friday 11 as ponts but have created a rarely-seen viaduct (viaduc) by adding Wednesday 9 too. Result: 3 days holiday taken = 9 days away from work.

For those interested in taking a long view, May 2046 will be still more impressive. There’ll be public holidays on Tuesday 1, Thursday 3 and Tuesday 8 May 2046. In other words, 28 years from now, Mon-Fri workers (will they exist?) only need to take but 4 days holiday and will have eleven, yes ELEVEN

consecutive days off work.

Alas, for certain devoted readers, I’m sure that this talk of 2046 could turn out to be a bridge too far.

Too many public holidays (for some)

The poor devils who slog away for Le Parisien weren’t thinking of ponts. They had to work on 8 May this week – about the only newspaper that appeared on this public holiday. They clearly decided to spoil the jour férié of those relaxing by informing us that ever more people work in France on public holidays, and asking whether one of those public holidays shouldn’t be suppressed.

Preview-MEDIUM-200644

Euro ‘parental leave’ non-harmonisation

There’s been a rapprochement of 5 major barely-communicating trades unions (plus 50 civil society Associations) who have united in calling on President Macron to stop opposing a proposed new European Directive on parental leave. This would bring about a substantial increase in monies (to the level of sickness pay) paid for the proposed 4 months of parental leave for each parent (cumulatively taken at various times up to the child’s 12th birthday). ‘A great idea’ said President Macron to the Euro-Parliament ‘but it could be very expensive and become unsustainable … under the French system there would be a potentially explosive cost.’

The Directive would also require 10 days paid leave for fathers on the birth of their child. Regarding paternal leave, France already gives 11 days; Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia currently give 0 days leave.

France is one of 14 countries (including Germany) opposing the new Directive.

 

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