The English are complaining about bank holidays again


Series of bank holidays in spring followed by dearth in autumn triggers call for rethink

Business leaders in England are calling for a complete rethink over the country’s public holiday schedule, having faced two breaks in a single month.

England’s asymmetric holiday calendar means that the first and last Mondays in May are reserved for public holidays – known as bank holidays in the UK – despite there being just one more holiday until Christmas.

In years when Easter falls in April, bosses face giving four extra days off in the space of two months.

According to statistics from the Centre for Economics & Business Research in 2012, each bank holiday costs the country £2.3 billion in lost productivity. Removing public holidays, meanwhile, could save £19 billion. Founder of the CEBR, Douglas McWilliams, said: “About 45% of the economy suffers; the offices, the factories, the building sites where people tend not to go to work on bank holiday.”

Lucie Greenwood, sales manager at virtual-assistant consultancy Ava, said that the first half of the year is top-heavy with bank holidays and many small business owners would find it easier to schedule work if public holidays were spread out a little more evenly across the year.

“It doesn’t seem to make much sense to have so many public holidays crammed into the space of two months,” she said. “We have two days at Easter, which sometimes falls in April, and then another two days off the very next month.

“Losing two days of trade – as is the case in May – can put added strain on many businesses. By moving one of the dates to later in the year, it not only eases the pressure on these firms – but gives the British workforce an extra break in the second half of the year.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of businesses scrapping some bank holidays altogether – instead giving their staff the extra days off in lieu. While this might not work for every company, it does give businesses more options and is a far less restrictive system.”

Yet despite the rush of public holidays in the English spring, the country has the fewest public holidays in the G20 – even fewer than its UK neighbours Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Spain gets 14 public holidays a year, while France and Italy boast 11 days apiece. The United States has 10.

Public holidays by country

Colombia – 18
India – 18
Lebanon – 16
South Korea – 16
Thailand – 16
Finland – 15
Japan – 15
Argentina – 15
Chile – 15
Turkey – 14.5
Spain – 14
Morocco – 14
Russia – 14
Indonesia – 14
Malaysia – 14
Philippines – 14
Pakistan – 13
Slovakia – 13
Austria – 12
Brazil – 12
Czech Republic – 12
Lithuania – 12
Sweden – 11
Italy – 11
France – 11
Croatia – 11
Denmark – 11
Canada – 11
New Zealand – 11
China – 11
Singapore – 11
Vietnam – 10
Belgium – 10
Poland – 10
United States – 10
Ukraine – 10
Luxembourg – 10
Norway – 10
Portugal – 10
Northern Ireland – 10
Serbia – 9
Romania – 9
United Arab Emirates – 9
Australia – 9
Scotland – 9
Hungary – 8
Netherlands – 8
England – 8
Wales – 8
Mexico – 7

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