As people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland enjoy the summer bank holiday amid somewhat indifferent weather, the TUC has called for extra days off to be created so the UK can meet European norms.
The TUC argued called the allocation of public holidays in England and Wales “stingy” and pointed out many European countries had double the number.
A few more public holidays would be a great way to thank working Britain for getting us through these tough times. And it would level us up with other workers around the world” – Frances O’Grady, TUC
Workers in England and Wales only receive eight bank holidays a year, which is much fewer than other countries.
Within the UK, workers in Northern Ireland do best with 10 bank holidays (including St Patrick’s Day and Battle of the Boyne Day) while Scotland has nine. Next year all countries of the UK will have a one-off extra day off in the form of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday on Friday 3 June.
The TUC would like to see four new public holidays in England and Wales (three in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland) created to bring the UK up to 12 days.
In the EU, every country has more public holidays than the UK, with the average being 12.8 days, almost five days more than most UK workers receive.
Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Cyprus top the EU table, with 15 days each – nearly twice as many public holidays as workers in England and Wales. And outside of Europe many of the UK’s trading partners do far better: this year there are 17 public holidays in Japan, 12 in Australia and 11 in China and New Zealand.
The TUC is calling for a national conversation about when people would like them to be.
Bank holidays and annual leave
To make sure that no workers miss out, the union body says extra public holidays must be reflected in statutory holiday entitlement. And any workers required to work on public holidays should have the right to a pay premium or time off in lieu.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady pointed out that after August, there was no national holiday until Christmas. “And that’s because the number of holidays we get is so stingy compared to other nations.
“A few more public holidays would be a great way to thank working Britain for getting us through these tough times. And it would level us up with other workers around the world.
“It’s time for a national conversation – when should our new holidays be? What might they celebrate? An autumn holiday to break the long stretch to Christmas would be a good start.”
There has not been any indication from the government that it is willing to create additional permanent bank holidays.