PepsiCo in Australia is following an overseas trend of companies offering workers the choice to swap some public holidays for others more appropriate to them.
The multinational soft-drink company PepsiCo says it wants to give its Australian employees the option of exchanging some public holidays for more culturally appropriate days to celebrate.
The company's trial is being termed "floating cultural holidays," and PepsiCo says it reflects the company's diverse workforce. It could enable workers to turn such days as Chinese New Year or Diwali into personal holidays.
They are the multicultural celebrations that can stop cities -- Lunar New Year and Diwali among them. And they are growing in popularity alongside traditional Australian public holidays such as Melbourne Cup Day and the Queen's Birthday.
Now, PepsiCo in Australia is following an overseas trend of companies offering workers the choice to swap some public holidays for others more appropriate to them. For Thai-born Buddhist employee Larissa Thamniamjad, the move means she could celebrate the numerous Buddhist holidays on the calendar without using her annual leave.
But Ms Thamniamjad says, while such celebrations are important to her, she still sees the importance of embracing the traditions of her current home.
PepsiCo says it does not want to impose the Australian public holidays, or what it describes as "the Anglo-Saxon holidays," on its diverse cultural workforce. The global company says, in its Australian operation, it has over 45 nationalities and it sees the floating-holiday idea as a way to increase cultural diversity within the workforce.
The trial for its 1,800 employees will not be extended to some main holidays, which are non-negotiable, but exchanging holidays such as the Queen's Birthday is a possibility. PepsiCo Australia chief executive Danny Celoni explains.
Diversity Council Australia research has found inclusion at work is good for business and for employees. Its research reveals workers in inclusive teams are 10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers in non-inclusive teams and almost 20 times more likely to be very satisfied with their jobs.
On the streets of Sydney, these workers from other workplaces had mixed feelings about PepsiCo's move, though.
Other employers such as the music-streaming company Spotify and the United Nations similarly offer floating holidays. Also this week, the ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to institute a Reconciliation Day public holiday, celebrating Indigenous culture by replacing Family Day.
Australians who follow the Jewish faith are one of the non-Christian faith groups who celebrate religious holidays outside the Australian public-holiday calendar. The chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, says he welcomes more flexibility.
The former chairman of the Ethnic Communities Councils of New South Wales, Peter Doukas, says it is great in theory but practical concerns need to be considered.