There will be four long weekends next year, according to Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) gazetted public holidays for 2021. This is four fewer than the number of long weekends this year. While it is still unclear whether we can start travelling, you can definitely start planning your leave dates.

Of the 11 annual public holidays next year, three fall on Friday and one on Monday, MOM said on Wednesday (June 24).

The Friday holidays in 2021 are New Year’s Day on Jan 1, Chinese New Year on Feb 12 and Good Friday on April 2. The Aug 9 National Day holiday falls on a Monday.

The other holidays are Chinese New Year on Feb 13, Labour Day on May 1, Hari Raya Puasa on May 13, Vesak Day on May 26, Hari Raya Haji on July 20, Deepavali on Nov 4 and Christmas Day on Dec 25.

The four long weekends next year form the fewest number in recent years.

There were seven in 2015 and 2017, six in 2016, and five in 2012 and 2011. There were also only four long weekends in 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019.

There were supposed to be seven long weekends this year but on Wednesday, MOM announced that Polling Day for the General Election on July 10, a Friday, was declared a public holiday.

This means 2020 now has eight long weekends.

“(Polling Day) should be treated in the same manner as any other public holiday,” MOM said.

Workers who work on the gazetted days next year, as well as Polling Day this year, are entitled to an extra day’s salary at the basic rate of pay, unless employers and workers agree to substitute the employee’s day off on another working day.

Public holidays in 2021

New Year’s DayJan 1, 2021 Friday
Chinese New Year Feb 12, 2021 Friday
 Feb 13, 2021Saturday
Good FridayApril 2, 2021 Friday
Labour DayMay 1, 2021Saturday
Hari Raya Puasa *May 13, 2021Thursday
Vesak DayMay 26, 2021 Wednesday
Hari Raya Haji *July 20, 2021Tuesday
National DayAug 9, 2021Monday
DeepavaliNov 4, 2021 Thursday
Christmas DayDec 25, 2021 Saturday
* Subject to change

Employers can also choose to grant time-off-in-lieu for an agreed number of hours to employees for working on a public holiday, although this option applies only for employers of workmen earning more than $4,500 a month, non-workmen earning more than $2,600 a month and all managers and executives.

The announcement comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and continued uncertainty over whether Singaporeans will be allowed to travel overseas next year.

The past few months have seen borders closed and flights cut, although some countries have more recently restarted limited travel.

The number of transit travellers is expected to rise in the coming weeks as the Singapore Airlines Group starts to serve transit passengers from more locations in China, Japan and South Korea.

Recruitment experts said that how workers approach long weekends previously will change because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Depending on how the aviation and travel industries have recovered next year, or how the threat of Covid-19 is perceived around the world, travel might not be the main way workers spend the long weekends,” said Mr David Ang, director for corporate services at Human Capital Singapore.

While businesses in some industries such as entertainment and food and beverage might have had more customers over long weekends in the past, this is not certain in the future.

“There are still a lot of questions around what people will prefer to do with their time off in a post-Covid-19 world,” he said.

Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, said the availability of a vaccine will affect how workers use their long weekends and plan their travels.

“Travel restrictions coupled with forced leave imposed by employers have resulted in a pent up demand for overseas vacations,” she said.

“If the situation improves next year and international travel restrictions are lifted, more people are likely to take advantage of the long weekends to compensate for the trips that they have missed this year. They would probably take longer vacations or travel to further destinations.”

How to make the most next year’s public holidays

Here’s how you can stretch your holidays with some careful planning. By taking strategic days off, you can turn five more public holidays into long weekends.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.