This site uses cookies; by continuing to use our site you agree to our use of cookies. More details in our privacy policy. Close

Do we really need more Bank Holidays?

By Ian Holloway, head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR & Payroll Services

A Labour government would seek to create four UK-wide Bank Holidays if it wins power in the June 2017 general election.

This is all for the purposes of uniting what is perceived as a divided UK. These days would be the patron saints’ days as follows:

• 1 March (St David’s Day, Wales)
• 17 March (St Patrick’s Day, Northern Ireland)
• 23 April (St George’s Day, England)
• 30 November (St Andrew’s Day, Scotland)

In the first instance, let’s be clear about what a Bank Holiday actually is. According to the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, a Bank Holiday is only a day where banking and financial dealings are suspended. Taken straight from the legislation, the 1971 act confers that the following days are Bank Holidays:

England and Wales

• Easter Monday
• The last Monday in May
• The last Monday in August
• 26 December (if it be not a Sunday)
• 27 December (in a year in which 25 or 26 December is a Sunday)

Scotland

• New Year’s Day, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 3 January
• 2 January, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 3 January
• Good Friday
• The first Monday in May
• The first Monday in August
• 30 November, if it is not a Saturday or Sunday or, if it is a Saturday or Sunday, the first Monday following that day
• Christmas Day, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 26 December

Northern Ireland

• 17 March, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 18 March
• Easter Monday
• The last Monday in May
• The last Monday in August
• 26 December, if it be not a Sunday
• 27 December in a year in which 25 or 26 December is a Sunday

Outside of the above legislation, the other Bank Holidays are made by ‘Royal proclamation’. This is the only way that some uniformity is brought to the crazy way in which they are determined at the moment – for example, New Year’s Day is only deemed a Bank Holiday in Scotland in legislation but proclamation means that equal status is given to this day in the rest of the UK.

To me, clearly there does seem to be some tidying up of this legislation. There don’t seem to be any days that are uniform UK-wide. However, that is not the point of Labour’s announcement, which has said only that they plan to make patron saints’ days apply UK-wide. So, for example, while St Patrick’s Day is a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland, and no banking or financial dealings occur there on that day, they do in the rest of the UK. Similarly with St Andrew’s Day in Scotland.

However, controversially, do we really need extra Bank Holidays?

• If we did have them in 2017, there would be very few weeks in March, April and May when we are working a full week.
• Absolutely lovely you think. However, the legislation that says how many days the employer has to pay (the Working Time Regulations) would also have to be amended. Or are we expected to have the additional days without pay and outside of our holiday entitlement? Interestingly, the Labour announcement said nothing about being paid for the extra days, only that workers may get an extra day off.
• If the Working Time Regulations are amended, is it for employers to pick up the cost of paying for more holiday days?

To be honest, I am not sure that having a Bank Holiday on 1 March to celebrate St David’s Day would bring this Englishman closer to his Welsh neighbours. If it were me, I would tidy up the legislation in the first place (as much as possible) rather than getting Royal proclamation to do this for me. So, have a look at the act itself and spread the Bank Holidays more evenly throughout the year.

Posted on 2nd May 2017 by Jerome Smail

 

 

blog comments powered by Disqus