South Africans to have one FEWER public holiday in 2025

South Africans will have one fewer public holiday next year. This is due to 29 May, the day of the 2024 National Elections, that was declared a public holiday. This is good news for businesses.

Public holidays over weekends

The Public Holidays Act states that whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following shall also be a public holiday. However, when a public holiday falls on a Saturday, it will not give people time off work.

Next year, National Women’s Day on 9 August falls on a Saturday. Freedom Day, 27 April 2025, falls on a Sunday, which means Monday 28 April 2025 will be a public holiday.

South Africans will observe one fewer public holiday on a weekday in 2025 than in 2024 because of the 29 May 2024 public holiday.

According to IOL, South Africa has one of the highest numbers of public holidays in the world. 

Impact on the economy and employers

More workdays benefit South Africa’s economy by increasing the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to Business Tech.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act specifies that employers cannot require employees to work on a public holiday. This is good news for employees but bad news for businesses and the economy. Businesses must still pay employees their normal wages regardless of time off work due to a public holiday.

Employees who choose to work on public holidays are entitled to double their ordinary pay for that day.

Employees often take off a day or two extra before or after a public holiday to create long weekends. This could be disruptive to business continuity.

Businesses also often experience increased absenteeism around public holidays, resulting in them losing more working hours. South Africa’s labour laws stipulate that if a worker is absent from work due to illness, the business must still pay the employee. The only exception is if the worker neglects to inform the employer of their absence or provide evidence that they were ill.

All in all, the impact on businesses heavily depends on the type of business or sector they are in. Industrial businesses, for example, may be more affected as public holidays disrupt their production processes, which in turn influence their finances. Public holidays will decrease productivity or increase wages in many industries, like manufacturing and mining.

On the other hand, businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and airlines usually benefit from public holidays as many people spend money on leisure activities on a day off.

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