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The working holiday that is Christmas

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By Dom Galeon
Most of us enjoy the holidays with our families and friends, away from the usual hustle that comes with work. Yet, as much as this is the norm, there are industries that cannot afford to have a holiday—not in the strictest sense of it, at least. Because of the require­ments of their profession, workers in the medical and service industries, for example, have to be on duty during the holidays. And Christmas, despite its central place in Philippine culture, is no exception.

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Among these are the professionals in the hotel in­dustry. Christ­mas holidays are among the busiest periods for hotel manag­ers and staff, says one ex­ecutive from a well-known hotel in Manila. Since stayca­tions are in, many hotels offer promos that include packages for families at Christmas and on New Year’s Eve. Many hotels also organize parties for their guests, as well as special menus at their in-house cafés. Others arrange for masses to be celebrated on the eve of Christmas or New Year.

According to an event manager from a popular hotel and casino, there is an over­whelming feeling that comes with seeing their guests have a great time during these holidays. That, he says, is enough for him to also enjoy the season.

Some hotel workers have to celebrate their own Christmas parties in January because it’s impossible to have it in De­cember. Needless to say, hotel associates are often up to their necks with work during the hotels. In one hotel chain, hotel employ­ees have the option to work either during Christmas or New Year’s Eve, giving them a chance to enjoy at least one of the two special occasions with their families.

A business hotel in Iloilo makes sure that its employees are well taken care of during these working holidays. The idea, according to the hotel’s general manager, is to treat their employees like family, and not just dur­ing this season but the whole year round.

These working Christmas holidays are not without compensation, of course. Ac­cording to the labor laws of the Philippines, Christmas and New Year’s fall under the so-called regular holidays, which are holidays that have fixed dates. Since Christmas in the country is a more-than-one-day affair, Dec. 24 and 31 are usually declared holi­days, or special non-working holidays, to be exact.

According to the Labor Code of the Philippines, employees who work during a regular holiday are entitled to compensation that’s 200 percent of their daily rate plus cost of living allowance (COLA). For those who did overtime work during a regular holiday, they are due compensation that’s a total of 200 percent their daily rate plus COLA, plus their hourly rate multiplied to the number of excess hours multiplied by 2.6. Those who work during a special non-working holiday are usually paid 130 percent of their daily rate. Those who do not work during a holiday are given their daily rate plus COLA.

It’s quite understandable that people in the hotel industry, as well as those in other service-oriented professions, have to work during the holidays. This is true not just for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but also for the other holidays—regular or special—that dot the calendar. With legislation in place to ensure that these professionals are fairly compensated for their holiday work, Christ­mas and New Year won’t be a sad affair even if it is spent away from the family.

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