Civil servants and State employees will enjoy nine days off during the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, from January 28 to February 5, 2014, following an approval by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Under the Labour Code, there are five days off for the Tet festival. However, Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang submitted a request to the Prime Minister to allow civil servants and State employees to begin their Tet holidays two days early.

The civil servants and State employees, however, will have to work on two Saturdays - January 25 and February 8 - as compensation for the two days off.

Minister Thang said the extended holiday was requested in a bid to reduce traffic jams and accidents, as well as ease the burden on public transportation in large cities when people return to their hometowns to celebrate the festival.

He said that with the current Tet holiday schedule, people will have only one day off before Tet and several days off after Tet, resulting in great traffic pressure and the increase of traffic accidents. It also raises difficulty for workers in preparing for the Tet, so many civil servants dodge work to go shopping for it.

"We can see from previous years that the holiday usually brings with it serious traffic jams and more accidents as people return home to reunite with their families," Minister Thang said.

"We could reduce traffic if we let people off earlier. In any case many people call in to work in order to prepare for Tet, so we should give them these days in order to boost consumption. Also, Tet ending earlier means that people have fewer chances for parties, which we hope will also help reduce the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers," he stated.

Last year, the Lunar New Year holiday also lasted for nine days, from January 28 to February 5.-VNA