How To Make The Most Of Your Public Holiday

Many people would be surprised to know that Australia isn’t the laid back nation it is perceived to be, with only 63% of Aussies taking all their entitled leave per year. According to Roy Morgan research, the average Australian has stashed away 21 days of annual leave.

In saying that, 70% of leave stockpilers admit that taking time off to recharge does wonders for health, happiness, and more productivity at work but fear taking leave due to a number of personal and professional barriers.

Luckily, we are blessed to live in a country where national holidays fall almost solely on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays giving leave stockpilers an opportunity to take a short break without getting FOTAL (Fear of Taking Annual Leave). It also gives the other 10% of Australians that are constantly in leave shortage, a chance for a minimal-leave-needed getaway. Here’s how:

1. Australia Day

With Australia Day falling on a Tuesday this year, it is no surprise that nearly 200,000 employees are expected to chuck a sickie on Monday the 25th of January. Being that employers are bracing themselves for the influx of sickies that usually occur around Australia Day, it may be a little too late (or a huge risk to your job if you tried) to get up and go right now.

For the excessive leave stockpiler that would be doing their employer a favour by taking some days off, this weekend is the perfect opportunity for a quick getaway. The smart planner would take Friday the 22nd and Monday the 25th off resulting in a five day holiday for only two days of leave.

2. Easter

The leave-stockpiler’s dream. With a four day weekend beginning on Good Friday, the 25th of March, extending to Easter Monday, the 28th of March, take only 5 days of leave either side and you have yourself a trip to Europe. The best advice for making the most of this time? Book yourself a CostSaver trip – not only saving young professionals money, it’s a new hassle-free way to travel where you’ll see the major sights and have loads of free time to do your own thing.

3. ANZAC Day

Falling on a Monday, this revered public holiday is a way to celebrate the national pride of our country. While an overseas holiday may not be feasible this year without

taking an additional week’s worth of leave, it is a good opportunity to take a day or two either side for a quick local getaway – think luxury weekend away to the Hunter Valley with Inspiring Journeys.

In saying that, ANZAC Day 2017 is a much better scorecard, falling just over a week after the Easter long weekend. Plan ahead and score a week off work (and perhaps a few more days for the advanced notice) and head to the USA with Trafalgar’s Tastes and Sounds of the South guided holiday. As a bonus, this is also the best time to travel to the States, being off-peak with the pleasant springtime climate.

4. Christmas

Tis’ the season to milk your annual leave. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, we are given a glorious trifecta of public holidays with an additional day off on Monday the 27th preceded by Christmas and Boxing Day. Use the time wisely and book in your leave now to experience the magic of a European White Christmas or a glamorous New York New Year’s Eve with Trafalgar.

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1 in 6 Americans were Amazon Prime members at end of holiday season, survey says

SEATTLE — One in six Americans was a member of the Amazon Prime service at the end of the most recent holiday season, a 35 percent boost from a year before, according to a survey from a retail research firm released Monday.

The report, by Chicago-based Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, says that nearly half of Amazon.coms US customers, or 54 million people, have signed up for Prime, a program that offers free two-day shipping for many purchases, as well as services such as streaming video and music. Members pay $99 a year. The 54 million figure, if true, could put Amazon Primes US enrollment in the territory of Seattle-area rival Costco Wholesale, which has 83 million cardholders among 45 million annual fee-paying households across its global operations.

Costco doesnt break down how many of those members are in the US, but about 70 percent of its warehouses are in the US and Puerto Rico. Based on those figures, it could be assumed that about 58 million of its cardholders are in the US

CIRP data is based on a survey of 500 US participants who bought items from Amazon between October and December. Amazon is vague about how many people are part of the program. There are tens of millions of Prime members, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Those subscribers spend nearly $1,100 per year at the online retailer, nearly twice as much as non-members do, according to CIRP.

Bittersweet Chinese Lunar New Year holiday: migrant workers sent home early as factories struggle with economic …

Migrant workers Liu Mei and her husband, Chu Yangjian, were told by their employers to start their holidays earlier this year in order to take the 12-hour journey to their hometown for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.

However, the offer was not such good news for the couple; they were allowed to head off to Hunan province only because the factory where they work for has seen a drop in orders and production.

Yet they were not alone. The shadow of an economic downturn was looming over many migrant workers waiting at Foshan city train station in Guangdong on Monday, one of the coldest days on record in the province.

READ MORE: Ah, the joys of Chinese Lunar New Year train travel: smelly instant noodles, cheesy feet and noisy children

“Business wasn’t good this year,” said Liu, 38, who works with her husband at a furniture factory in Foshan. “There was an obvious drop in our workload and our salary payments got delayed by two months. Many of us were allowed to start our holidays early.”

Still, the couple are eager to see their children, whom they are able to see only once a year.

The couple’s children, aged 9 and 14, live in the family’s hometown in Xinhua county and are among the tens of millions of so-called “left behind children” in China.

“I miss them everyday but what can we do?” Liu said. “It’s difficult to find jobs in Xinhua.”

Another migrant workers couple in Foshan, Luo Cheng and his wife, also started their Lunar New Year holiday a week earlier than in previous years.

They said they believed it was because the shoe factory where they work and live has had fewer orders this year and the company wanted to cut down on staff salaries by sending them home earlier.

The couple from Hunan province, struggling carrying six huge sacks between them, said they were eager to start their eight-hour train ride home despite the uncertainty over the future of their jobs.

“We have a 12-year-old son who is living at home with our parents, who are in their 60s,” Luo, 40, told the South China Morning Post as he rushed off to board his train. “The long ride home is tough, but it’s worth it.”

However, some workers longing to go home were not lucky enough to start their journeys.

A notice posted at Foshan train station announced the cancellation of nine trains on Saturday, eight, on Sunday and five on Monday because of “strong winds” caused by the polar vortex, which has brought unusually cold weather to much of the country.

Liu Jianyun, 32, was one of the unlucky migrant workers whose train to Hengyang city, in Hunan province, was cancelled.

He has been working at a metal factory in Foshan for 11 years and had to wait in line at the station for six hour to get a refund and arrange a new ticket for another trip.

His wife and their six-year-old daughter back home in Hengyang have been waiting eagerly for his once-a-year return.

Liu said he was frustrated about the enforced delay and also criticised the railway company for cancelling the train.

The annual Lunar New Year holiday, which this year begins on February 8, is one of the most important traditional holidays for family reunions.

Millions of migrant workers travel back to their home towns each year for the holiday – using trains, buses, cars, and motorcycles – with homebound journeys usually starting from 15 days before and return trips finishing about 25 days after the festival.

First picture of ‘Death in Paradise’ holiday victim ‘raped and then hacked to death with pirate cutlass’

Friends of the victim who was hacked to death on an idyllic Caribbean island have paid tribute to the amazing woman.

The 39-year-old anesthesiologist, Jessica Colker, from Georgia, USA, was enjoying the first day of her holiday with her husband, Brian Melito, before she was allegedly raped and then stabbed to death with a cutlass.

Colleages at the hospital where Jessica worked said she was a valued member of the childrens team.

The hospital released a statement that said: Jessica was a valued member of our childrens team.

We are deeply saddened by this horrific news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this very difficult time.

A colleague at the hospital, who wanted to remain anonymous, told local media staff were shocked at her murder.

They said they wanted to remember her for how she lived, not how she died.

One said: She was an amazing person.

She was a sweetheart who never had a bad word to say about anybody.

The murder suspect has been named as Dave Martin Benjamin, who has previous convictions of rape.

Benjamin turned himself in to police after the horrific attack in La Sagesse, Grenada.

Benjamin has not yet been charged and is being held at St Georges Police station.

He has a distinguishable tear drop tattoo beneath his left eye, which symbolises that someone has killed or is willing to kill.

Grenada Police spokesman Sylvan McIntyre said: What I can tell you now is that he is in custody. He was not captured, but her turned himself in and our investigations will continue, as we believe he can assist us with our investigation into the incident.

Mr McIntyre said Benjamin had been released from prison after being convicted of rape and carnal knowledge.

State Sen. Kevin Bacon wants to make Ohio’s sales-tax holiday permanent

For Ohioans who took advantage of last year’s sales-tax holiday during back-to-school shopping,
a Franklin County senator wants to make experience an annual event.

For three days last August, shoppers could buy certain clothing and school items and avoid
paying state and local sales tax, a rate that adds up to 6.5 percent or more, depending on the
county. The rate is 7.5 percent in Franklin County and 7 percent in Delaware County.

gt;gt; TAKE THE QUIZ: Do you know which items are tax-free during a sales-tax
holiday?

gt;gt; Learn more about what was tax-free during the 2015 tax holiday

Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, said based on the positive feedback both from retailers and
the general public about the 2015 sales tax holiday, which was passed as a one-year test, he now
wants to make it a reoccurring event every August.

“We’re trying to give enough of a break on items to make it meaningful, but at the same time be
prudent about how it’s going to impact the state of Ohio’s coffers,” Bacon said.

There is no hard data to show the impact of the 2015 sales tax holiday. A Department of Taxation
spokesman said the agency is working on an analysis, but he was not sure when it would be
completed.

“Everything we could deduce from the business owners is that it was a huge success,” Bacon said.
“We also heard more than one story (from people) that it was important that they could save this
money in back-to-school time.”

Bacon’s new bill would set up the holiday in the same way as last year. Savings would apply to
clothing priced up to $75 each, and to common school supplies and instructional materials up to $20
each.

The Kasich administration estimated the three-day holiday would cost the state $20 million in
sales tax revenue, while the Legislative Service Commission estimated it at less. The restrictions
on the holiday — limiting clothing prices and excluding electronics — kept down the tax losses.

The state Office of Budget and Management said the impact of the holiday on tax collections was
spread over August and September.

Non-auto sales tax collections in August were nearly $727 million, more than 10 percent higher
than receipts from August 2014. But in September, sales tax collections were 0.3 percent below
revenue from the previous year.

The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, with help from the University of Cincinnati, also is
analyzing the tax holiday.

“From all accounts, consumers were extremely pleased,” Lora Miller of the Council said.

Retailers reported cross-border activity from states including Indiana and Kentucky, and there
is hope that the holiday encouraged Ohioans not to shop in Pennsylvania, where clothing is never
taxed, Miller said.

“People were out in droves,” she said, noting that it appears shoppers didn’t just buy
tax-exempt items, but other products and services as well.

Some, including the Tax Foundation, a conservative tax-policy research group based in
Washington, DC, have criticized the tax holiday as a politically expedient gimmick.

Getting the holiday in place for this summer would require lawmakers to pass the bill before
breaking in June.

jsiegel@dispatch.com

@phrontpage