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An Auckland firm is seizing the initiative in boosting public holidays for its workers, and is urging other businesses to follow suit.
About 40 staff at Peddle Thorp Architects will enjoy a long weekend from this Friday as the business provides a paid day off to break up the long haul between Queen's Birthday and Labour Weekend.
The gesture is being lauded by unions as beneficial for all, but employer groups say it will only work if businesses choose to do it rather than being pressured to.
Peddle Thorp director Terry Barnes said the "Big Day Off" was a reward for the hard work of his staff during the recession, and to recognise that Kiwis in general worked hard with not a lot of days off to show for it.
"It's about 18 weeks between Queen's Birthday and Labour Weekend, and 18 weeks is a long period," he said.
"It's also the middle of winter, the shortest days. We often arrive at the office when it's dark, and leave when it's dark.
"This is another little pep-me-up incentive ... to do something a little different this year.
"We'd like to see other businesses do the same. It's a fantastic way to build staff morale, and considering the fact that it's the staff who really keep things ticking over, rewarding them with an extra day off is the least we can do."
A recent agreement gave 2000 metal and manufacturing workers a one-off holiday next year to make up for missed public holidays, and unions think other employment contracts could follow suit.
But the Employers and Manufacturers Association sees no need to legislate for more time off.
"New Zealand's public holidays are not untypical of what there are around the world, and we also have four weeks' holiday now, and that enables more people to take short breaks," said EMA chief executive Alasdair Thompson.
"We are very happy with whatever employers and employees agree to do. But we shouldn't be making [additional days] compulsory. Different employers are in different positions."
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly praised Peddle Thorp's move, saying it was bound to result in better morale and productivity.
"It is a long period [over winter] and workers feel particularly sensitive when public holidays fall on Saturdays and Sundays and things like that. We have to work to live, not live to work."
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the Government had not considered adding to New Zealand's 11 public holidays.
"I think most New Zealanders appreciate that having around 30 working days off a year is pretty good."