Like the Grand National, gambolling lambs and hyperactive children smeared with chocolate, Spring wouldn’t be Spring without a rash of Bank Holidays. In the short lull between the May Bank Holidays, we thought we’d lighten the mood with top ten Bank Holiday facts to keep you amused and informed as you dream about those idyllic days stranded in an overheated car in M5 traffic chaos.
1. The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock who introduced the first Bank Holidays in an Act of Parliament of 1871 (although customary festival days – local and national – preceded the Act). A keen cricketer, it was said he chose days when his village team played.
2. There is no legal entitlement to have bank holidays as part of paid annual leave, although they have a phantom presence in the eight additional days that the UK adds to the E.U. legal minimum of twenty (for a full-time worker).
3. Many workers will have a contractual entitlement/requirement to take these days as days of annual leave. Others, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, may be obliged to work some or all of them (although sometimes additional pay or time off in lieu will be given).
4. Good Friday and Christmas day are not technically Bank Holidays – they are public holidays.
5. May Day was only added as a Bank Holiday in 1971. The 1st May is recognised internationally as a day celebrating the labour movement and workers rights. It was chosen in commemoration of a Chicago strike which resulted in police violence and deaths (although the US celebrates Labour Day on the first Monday in September, just to be different).
6. Calculating holiday entitlement and deciding how to deal with Bank Holidays causes particular issues for atypical workers, including those who work part-time contracts. It has been suggested that an employer who gives paid holiday on Bank Holidays only to those who would normally work that day, may be found to be unlawfully discriminating against part-time workers. However, the key question would be whether the part-time worker normally works Mondays, and the discrimination argument has not been tested at appellate level.
7. It gets even trickier when you factor in term-time only contracts. The 2018 EAT decision of Brazel v The Harpur Trust suggests that it’s not always enough to calculate holiday entitlement as 12.07% of annualised hours. It’s a tricky authority that we’ve navigated with a number of clients.
8. Scotland, of course, celebrates slightly different Bank Holidays, with one extra day overall. Except, ironically, for its banks, which follow the English calendar for ease of business. The Isle of Man gets two extra Bank Holidays, one to enable people to watch (or stay out of the way of) the famous TT motorbike race.
9. If you’ve not yet got plans for the Spring Bank Holiday, why not head to Brockworth in Gloucestershire and chase a wheel of cheese down a hill at 70mph?
10. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds that float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
So said John Lubbock himself, and who are we to disagree?