Responding to mounting concerns from the public, the government has decided to slash this year's annual collective leave for civil servants from eight to four days.
State Minister for Administrative Reforms Taufik Effendi told a media gathering Tuesday that government employees would be given joint leave days on Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 3 for the Idul Fitri holiday, and Dec. 26 for the Christmas holiday.
"The total number of joint leave days is five, one of which had already been used (on Jan. 11). With this annulment, Feb. 8, May 2 and May 19 are no longer joint leave days," he said, adding that public services should run as usual on those days.
"Government officers who have already used up their annual 12 days of authorized leave are not eligible for the joint leave allowance. Violators will receive disciplinary action," he said.
The government's initiative on joint leave days -- based on a joint decree signed by the Religious Affairs Ministry, Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the State Ministry for Administrative Reforms -- connects public holidays with weekends, thereby extending the weekends.
The policy was introduced in response to a widespread habit of civil servants failing to show up for work following public holidays.
While the Indonesian tourism sector has benefited from the extended holiday scheme, the decision to alter the policy is part of the government's effort to accommodate the wants and needs of the public, particularly the private sector, Taufik said.
"We noted an extraordinary interest from the public in providing feedback on our policy, and have taken into account the aspirations of the public, experts and professionals. In adjusting the policy, we hope nobody is left disappointed," he said.
The business sector, including the media industry, had previously expressed concern over the lengthened holidays which were deemed detrimental to business productivity.
Members of the public have also criticized the effect of extended government holidays on administrative processing -- a matter which Taufik acknowledged.
"Public servants have been the center of many complaints, including stereotyping. The need to reform the bureaucracy is unquestionable, but it is not done in a void," he said, adding that four legislations aimed at improving public administration and governance were currently in the making.
"The legislation on public service, scheduled to be out in March, stipulates that serving the public is an obligation; the non-performance of which leads to financial and administrative sanctions," Taufik said.