Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Public Holidays: Could Do Better?

For most people who work for other people, holiday entitlements are valuable things -part of the package of benefits which includes salary, a salary scale, employer's pension contribution, and maybe bonuses.

But do people get the most out of their holidays? Over the festive season, for example, what proportion of working people have actively chosen and negotiated the time off they have? And, even if not, what proportion are satisfied with the arrangements made for them?

My guess is: Not very many. Lots of people are on holiday for no better reason than that their employer has shut down. That's true of many parts of the public sector - which could remain open 364/365 if only they would learn how to work a rota.

It simply baffles me that group practice GPs surgeries are allowed to operate as Monday to Friday, bank holidays excepted, nine to five offices. There's really no excuse. It should be seven days a week, 364/365 and no argument. Not only would patients be properly served, GPs might get more out of their holidays if they actually chose them. Complacency does not make for enjoyable holidays.

There is another side to the UKs protracted and clumsy Festive Season. If you are an outsider observing the UK economy, it looks very much as if these people are not very keen on working. Shopping, maybe. Drinking too much, maybe. Frankly, I wouldn't give this economy a triple A rating. That's why I make this Prediction for 2011:

Whatever the euro's problems, 2011 will end with the pound no stronger against the euro than it is today when it is trading at about 85 pence to the euro (about 1.17 euros to the pound). In the early days of the euro, Brits got 1.50 - even 1.60 euros to the pound. Trouble is, they produce increasingly fewer things that other people want. Scotch whisky, dodgy money deals and weapons of mass destruction (BAE) - that's about it.

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