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Public holidays for 2021 – How to turn 15 workdays into ’40 leave days’

Let's start this new year properly - by working out how we can manipulate the public holidays in 2021 to make the most of our available 'leave days'.

It’s day one of a new year. Not much changes as we head into 2021, but we’re desperately pinning our hopes on the next 12 months being much, much kinder to us. We thought we’d kick the first day of the first month off by ensuring that we’re all able to maximise our public holidays and leave days – as South Africa looks to banish 2020 to the ‘dustbin of history’.


Here’s our plan: Going by standardised office dates, work hours, and public holidays, we’ve got a method of taking 15 allocated ‘leave days’, and stretching them out tactically so it feels more like you’ve got 40 days off instead. The trick is to take your time off in strategic batches. At this point, we’ll refer you to the 2021 public holiday calendar:

  • 21 March: Human Rights Day (22 March: Public holiday)
  • 2 April: Good Friday
  • 5 April: Family Day
  • 27 April: Freedom Day
  • 1 May: Workers’ Day
  • 16 June: Youth Day
  • 9 August: National Women’s Day
  • 24 September: Heritage Day
  • 16 December: Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Day of Goodwill (27 December: Public holiday)


Just a few things to note before we continue. Worker’s Day lands on a bloody Saturday, so we’ve lost a midweek day off. The same fate befalls Christmas Day, which also lands on the first day of the weekend. We do, however, get an extra day to observe the festive period on Monday 27 December – a protocol also in place for Human Rights Day in March.

Our handy little guide helps you turn a standard weekend into a five-day affair. You can stretch Easter out for almost a week, and if you’re ‘one of those people’ who gets two weeks off at the end of December, you can start your Christmas holidays three days early – but you’ll need to play your cards right…

Holiday and dateWork days to take offContinuous time out of office
Human Rights Day: Sunday 21 March
(Public holiday observed on Monday 22 March)
– Friday 19 March
– Tuesday 23 March
Five days
Easter: Friday 2 April – Sunday 5 April– Thursday 1 April
– Monday 6 April
Six days
Freedom Day: Tuesday 27 April– Monday 26 AprilFour days
Worker’s Day: Saturday 1 MayN/AZero days
Youth Day: Wednesday 16 June– Thursday 17 June
– Friday 18 June
Five days
National Women’s Day: Monday 9 August– Friday 6 August
– Tuesday 10 August
Five days
Heritage Day: Friday 24 September– Thursday 23 September
– Monday 27 September
Five days
Day of Reconciliation: Thursday 16 December– Wednesday 15 December
– Friday 17 December
Five days
Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill
Saturday 25 December & Sunday 26 December
(Public holiday observed on Monday 27 December)
– Thursday 23 December
– Friday 24 December
Five days

by Tom Head

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