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Madina MP proposes an amendment to the Public Holiday Act

Madina lawmaker Francis Xavier Sosu is filing a private members bill that is seeking to amend the powers of the President in the declaration of additional public holidays.

The bill is also seeking a postponement of the celebration of public holidays on productive days to Friday.

“Sir, I wish to request the Legislative Drafting Office to draft for subsequent submission to the Speaker a bill to amend the Public Holidays (Amendment) Act, 2001, Act 601, to remove the power of the President to declare additional public holiday; grant authority to the President to merge public holidays; postpone celebration of public holidays on productive days to Friday; remove criminal sanctions for non-observance of public holidays, and provide for related matters,” a memo he wrote to the clerk to Parliament said.

Providing the basis for his bill, he cited the International Labor Organisation (ILO), explanation of public holiday which means “a day which is kept as a holiday for all banks, educational establishments, public offices and government departments. Public holidays have beneficial impacts on social life on normal weekdays and weekends (Merz & Orsberg, 2006).”

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT BILL, 2023 PDF (1)

On 1st June 2001, he said the government enacted the Public Holidays Act 2001 (Act 601), repealing the Public Holidays Law, 1989, (PNDCL 274) and Public Holidays (Amendment) Act, 1995 (Act 507).

This legislation provides for public holidays, additional holidays, substituted holidays. prohibition of business on public holidays, offences and penalties, exemptions, interpretation, and repeals.

On 24th May 2002, Government amended the Public Holidays (Amendment) Act, 2002, to include the Schedule, the 25th day of May as a public holiday as declared by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

On 17th April 2019, the Public Holidays Amendment Act, 2019 (Act 986) was gazetted and subsequently enacted with amendments and insertions to sections 1, 4A, 7, as well as the schedule of the Act.

“From the foregoing, the purpose of this proposal is to amend Section 3 of the Public Holidays Act 2001 (Act 601) to substitute public holidays that fall on days between Tuesday and Thursday to Friday. A substitute public holiday is an ordinary day that is treated like a public holiday instead of the actual public holiday. The basis for this proposal stems from the fact that productivity may be at its peak in the middle of the working week, say on a Tuesday or Wednesday (London School of Economics and Political Science, 2008).” he said.

This proposed amendment, he added, also gives relevant power and authority to the President to by executive instrument merge in a particular calender year, the celebration of any two public holidays in the public interest.

“Furthermore, this proposal seeks to repeal section 2 of Act 601 where by practice under the current regime, pubic holidays that fall on weekends are not marked as such, but such public holidays are postponed to Mondays, which fall on a working day, which contributes to loss of revenue by the State.

Also, the proposal seeks to abolish the regime of criminalizing conducts associated with public holidays by a repeal of the Offences and penalties provisions under section 5 of Act 601.

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