Leave our national holidays alone
Last week I was talking to someone in London about holidays and so on, and the subject of Brazilian national holidays came into the conversation.
In 2011, we had 16 holidays in total, including four days that are applicable only to the city of São Paulo, one that applies for the state and all the other national holidays.
The bloke I was talking to had worked in Brazil for a while and during his stay he was apparently “staggered” with the amount of national holidays people enjoy here on top of annual leave (30 days for most companies).
He went on to talk about how everyone in the office would bugger off for the whole week if a holiday fell on a Wednesday, questioned the actual “reason” for some of those holidays (what, a dentist?!) before finishing with the old cliché of how “it is hard for a country to progress” if people have that kind of “holiday mentality.”
I’ll open a parenthesis here. I’m sure there is plenty of people slacking in offices across Brazil, but in general terms what I see here is a working culture that is much more rigid than in other parts of the world.
I know of quite a few people here in São Paulo who are not allowed to take holidays at the time of the year that they want: it is all down to the boss, who determines a roster of who goes when. I often see people going to work when they are ill: for example, my cousin’s co-worker went to work despite barely being able to get out of bed and later found she had meningitis. People put up with all that nonsense for fear of losing their jobs.
Back to the topic of time off here in Brazil and how that seems to bother locals and foreigners.
Brazilian bosses should know by now that there are better ways of driving productivity of employees than punch cards or controlling when people go on holidays. When I ask people here whether they are measured by results, I often get a puzzled look. Same goes for remote working.
That’s even crazier when you think that in a city like São Paulo, people can easily spend four hours on public transport to get to work from home and back. That’s 80 hours a week – much more than the 12 days a year that people would have (in theory) been able to take off between bank holidays and the weekend! Surely companies could use that employee time in more effective ways?
The gringos calling us lazy should remember that countries like Germany, UK, Denmark and the Netherlands have a shorter working week than Greece, Portugal and Spain – and the difference in terms of solidity of the these countries’ economies is obvious.
We can’t continue to accept these old school working practices and preconceptions. Holidays are part of our cultural heritage – get over it.