Nov 112008

Of course speaking strictly they should be called “public holidays” or in the case of Easter, “common law holidays”, but whatever they are called, where are they ? The UK as a whole has just 8 days of public holidays which is decidedly stingy when compared to the European average of 10.8. What is especially irritating is that the part of the UK that has been the least well behaved over the last hundred years gets 10 days public holiday (NI).

But why limit ourselves to raising it to the European average ? That is somewhat unambitious, and we should think of actually increasing the average somewhat. Lets go for 12 days.

First of all we should add each country’s national day – St. George’s Day (in England), and St. David’s day (in Wales). Both Scotland and Northern Ireland already celebrate their national days, and Scotland needs the day it “swapped” to celebrate St. Andrew’s day restored. Frankly a country that cannot celebrate its own national day does not deserve to be called a country!

Secondly (and with good timing), we should be commemorating Remembrance Day as a bank holiday. Frankly not having this day as a national holiday is a complete disgrace and an insult to those who died in WWI. It could also serve a dual purpose as a sort of “Britain” day.

That leaves two left to distribute, and I would suggest having both in the summer – perhaps one on midsummer’s day and another in July.

Next all public holidays need to be properly protected. Many do not realise that there is no statutory duty for an employer to recognise “bank holidays”; we simply rely on them behaving properly. Employees need to be protected by being given the day off, or if it is necessary to work to be given double-time pay. And public holidays should not count against the yealy leave entitlement – as implemented in most of Europe.

Undoubtedly businesses will complain about the cost to business of all this extra loafing around. Well tough. You guys get it your own way far too much. Besides you might be surprised. Not only is there the surge of productivity that an employee gets when he or she has had a good break, but many also feel the need to “clear the desk” before a day or two off. It is possible that more work would get done with more public holidays than the current state.

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