Today, January 4, is the first workday of 2023 in Rwanda after the government added an extra day on top of the usual two-day holiday that comes with the New Year. With New Year’s Day falling on a weekend, employees have had four straight rest days, which will have given everyone the opportunity to reflect on the year we’ve just concluded and to connect and spend time with family and friends. Crucially, it was a moment to unwind, reset and refresh for new beginnings and set New Year’s resolutions – both at the individual and family level. Similarly, as employees return to work and enterprises return to normal business operations, it’ll be an opportunity for both employers and workers to open a new chapter with a view to hitting their set targets and increasing productivity. In particular, both employees and employers are returning to work as a new policy on working and school hours comes into force after adjustments that were first announced in November last year. For instance, the official working hours were slashed from 45 to 40 a week, while starting time in public service has been pushed back by one hour to 8a.m. The changes also include a one ‘flexible’ hour (between 8a.m and 9a.m) during which employees will be allowed to work remotely. There will also be a one-hour break while work ends at 5p.m. These changes, as well as the adjustments to school hours, according to the government officials, will help promote quality education, as well as enhance workplace productivity and family wellbeing. Effective this year classes across all pre-primary, primary and secondary and TVET schools will begin at 8:30a.m (instead of the previous 7a.m), which means learners will have more time to rest and refresh for another day. Aside from allowing parents and guardians to spend more time with their children and families, the reforms are expected to help improve the health of both children and employees as they’ll no longer have to wake up in the wee hours to prepare for school or work. While family is probably the biggest winner in all this, the lasting positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children will go a long way toward fostering a healthier and vibrant society. As such, we call on all employers in the private sector to throw their weight behind the reforms and ensure that everyone fully benefits. They too will benefit in the process as a healthier workplace helps create an environment necessary for greater performance and success. Equally, employees in the health sector should be afforded a similar arrangement for the same reasons explained above. This, however, needs a well thought out plan. The New Times welcomes you back from extended end-of-year holidays and wishes you a prosperous, fruitful 2023.