Countries Designate 2019 Chinese New Year Paid Holiday Dates

February 1, 2019

By Howard Perlman

Many employers throughout East and Southeast Asia must provide employees with paid leave for the lunar new year in 2019.

The holiday, also known as the Chinese New Year and as the Spring Festival, is a celebration of the completion of the lunar calendar used throughout East and Southeast Asia. Among the jurisdictions that require employers to provide workers with paid leave for the holiday are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The generally recognized first day of the Chinese New Year in 2019 is Feb. 5, and some jurisdictions’ paid leave for the holiday includes days before or after Feb. 5.

The jurisdictions’ paid leave schedules for recognizing the holiday in 2019 are as follows:

China: The seven-day period from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10 consists of paid days off, although Saturday, Feb. 2, and Sunday, Feb. 3, became official workdays to accommodate this seven-day period, China’s General Office of the State Council said in a notice (Chinese) regarding the schedule of 2019 holidays. Employers that require employees to work during the holiday must pay three times normal wages.

Hong Kong: Paid leave must be provided during the three-day period from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, the government of Hong Kong said in a 2019 holidays notice. Employers that require employees to work during a paid day off during the holiday period must provide them with an alternative day off within 60 days of the holiday.

Indonesia: The lunar new year, known in Indonesian as Tahun Baru Imlek, is celebrated Feb. 5 this year, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information said in a 2019 holidays news release (Indonesian). Special overtime pay may be required. Overtime work by employees working six days a week and that falls during Indonesia’s statutory holidays must be compensated with two times the normal hourly wage for the first five hours of work, three times the normal hourly wage for the sixth hour of work, and four times the hourly wage for the seventh and eighth hours of overtime work.

Malaysia: For 2019, the Chinese New Year is celebrated Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, the government of Malaysia’s state of Perak said in a notice regarding state and national holidays. Overtime generally must be paid for work on holidays in Malaysia at two to three times ordinary wages.

Singapore: As with Malaysia, Singapore is celebrating the Chinese New Year Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 this year, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower said in a notice of public holidays for 2019. Employers that require employees to work during the holiday must pay twice their normal wages, although the employer may give compensatory time off to employees in managerial or executive positions. If a public holiday falls on an employee’s rest day, the next working day will be a paid holiday for that employee. An employee who is absent from work on the day before or after a holiday without the consent of the employer or without a reasonable excuse generally is not required to be paid for the holiday.

Taiwan: As with Hong Kong, Taiwan’s 2019 celebration of the Chinese New Year is from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, Taiwan’s Office of Personnel Administration of the Executive Yuan said in a notice (Chinese) of holidays for 2019.

Vietnam: The lunar new year, also known as the Tet holiday for its Vietnamese name, Tết Nguyên Đán, is celebrated this year from Feb. 2 to Feb. 10, the Vietnam Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said in a notice (Vietnamese) regarding 2019 holidays for government employees, which generally also are applicable to employees in the private sector. Employers that require employees to work during the lunar new year must pay three times normal wages. A customary lunar new year bonus, also known as a Tet bonus, is often paid to employees prior to their leaving for the lunar new year holiday in Vietnam. The amount of this bonus depends on both company and employee performance.

Other Recognition of the Lunar New Year

The Philippines and South Korea do not require employers to provide employees with paid leave for the lunar new year, but nonetheless have customary recognition of the holiday, with this recognition sometimes affecting employment provisions. Thailand does not provide paid leave at the national level in recognition of the Chinese New Year, but paid leave generally is provided for the holiday in a group of five of its provinces, all of which either border Malaysia or are close to the border between the countries.

The following are additional details regarding recognition of the lunar new year in these countries in 2019:

Philippines: The government designated Feb. 5, 2019, as a special nonworking day under Presidential Proclamation No. 555. As a special nonworking day, the lunar new year is not a required paid holiday, but employees in the Philippines who work on the day are entitled to extra pay of 30 percent for the hours worked.

South Korea: The lunar new year, also known in South Korea as Seollal, is celebrated in 2019 from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, the government of South Korea’s city of Busan said in a notice regarding the 2019 lunar new year. It is customary and may be required under collective bargaining agreements for South Korean businesses to close for the lunar new year.

Thailand: Financial institutions in the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, Songkhla, and Yala recognize the first day of the Chinese New Year, Feb. 5, for celebrating the holiday, the Thailand Board of Investment said in a society and culture overview that included details on holidays for 2019. The Chinese New Year recognition date for financial institutions in these provinces generally also is broadly applicable to private-sector employees in these provinces, for whom overtime pay may be required if they work on the holiday.

More information regarding payroll in these jurisdictions is available in Bloomberg Tax’s Payroll Primers for China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

To contact the reporter on this story: Howard Perlman in Washington at hperlman@bloombergtax.com

Copyright © 2019 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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