Bank holiday

Bank holiday

A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom or a colloquialism for public holiday in Ireland. There is no automatic right to time off on these days, although the majority of the population is granted time off work or extra pay for working on these days, depending on their contract.[1] The first official bank holidays were the four days named in the Bank Holidays Act 1871, but today the term is colloquially used for public holidays which are not officially bank holidays, for example Good Friday and Christmas Day.



Bank Holidays Act 1871

Prior to 1834, the Bank of England observed about thirty-three saints' days and religious festivals as holidays, but in 1834, this was reduced to just four: 1 May (May Day), 1 November (All Saints Day), Good Friday, and Christmas Day. In 1871, the first legislation relating to bank holidays was passed when Liberal Politician and Banker Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act 1871, which specified the days in the table set out below.[2] The English people were so thankful that they called the first Bank Holidays St Lubbock's Days for a while.[3] Scotland was treated separately because of its separate traditions; for example, New Year is a more important holiday there.[citation needed]

Bank holidays 1871
England, Wales, Ireland Scotland
Good Friday
Easter Monday
Whit Monday First Monday in May
First Monday in August First Monday in August
Boxing Day/St Stephen's Day Christmas Day

The act did not specify Good Friday and Christmas Day as bank holidays in England, Wales, and Ireland because they were already recognised as common law holidays, and because of common observance, they became customary holidays since before records began.[2]

In 1903, the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act added 17 March, Saint Patrick's Day, as a bank holiday for Ireland only.[4]

Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971

Exactly a century after the 1871 Act, the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which currently regulates bank holidays in the UK, was passed.[5] The majority of the current bank holidays were specified in the 1971 Act, but New Year's Day and May Day were introduced after 1971.[6]

From 1965, the date of the August bank holiday was changed to the end of the month. Curiously, there were a few years (e.g., 1968) when this holiday fell in September, but this no longer occurs - presumably reflecting a change in the way of defining the relevant day. The Whitsun bank holiday (Whit Monday) was replaced by the Late Spring Bank Holiday - fixed as the last Monday in May - in 1971.[7] In 1978 the first Monday in May in the UK, and the final Monday of May in Scotland, were designated as bank holidays.[8]

In January 2007, the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007 was given royal assent, making 30 November (or the nearest Monday if a weekend) a bank holiday in Scotland.[9]

Current practice

Royal proclamation

Under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, bank holidays are proclaimed each year by the legal device of a royal proclamation. Royal proclamation is also used to move bank holidays that would otherwise fall on a weekend. In this way, public holidays are not 'lost' in years when they coincide with weekends. These deferred bank holiday days are termed a 'bank holiday in lieu' of the typical anniversary date. In the legislation they are known as 'substitute days'. The movement of the St Andrew's Day Scottish holiday to the nearest Monday when 30 November is a weekend day is statutory and does not require a proclamation.

List of current holidays

Current bank and public holidays
Date Name England and Wales (9) Scotland (10) Northern Ireland (11) Republic of Ireland (9)
1 January New Year's Day Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
2 January 2 January Green tickY
17 March St Patrick's Day Green tickY Green tickY
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
The Monday after Easter Sunday Easter Monday Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
29 April 20114 Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
First Monday in May1 May Day Bank Holiday (or Early May Bank Holiday in Scotland) Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
Last Monday in May2,3 Spring Bank Holiday Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
First Monday In June June Bank Holiday Green tickY
12 July The Twelfth Green tickY
First Monday in August Summer Bank Holiday Green tickY Green tickY
Last Monday in August Summer Bank Holiday Green tickY Green tickY
Last Monday in October October Bank Holiday Green tickY
30 November St Andrew's Day Green tickY
25 December Christmas Day Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
26 December Boxing Day, St Stephen's Day Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
  1. For one year only, 1995, this holiday was moved to the second Monday in May – i.e., from 1 May to 8 May – to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
  2. For one year only, 2002, this holiday was moved to 4 June. This caused it to follow an extra bank holiday on 3 June, making a four-day weekend to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
  3. Again in 2012 this holiday will be moved to 4 June. It will then be followed by an extra holiday on 5 June, making a four-day weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
  4. For one year only, 2011, a public holiday was given to ensure most people would have a chance to celebrate on the day, making a four-day weekend with May day on the following Monday.[10]

In Scotland

A number of differences apply in Scotland relative to the rest of the United Kingdom. For example, Easter Monday is not a bank holiday. Also, although they share the same name, the Summer Bank Holiday falls on the first Monday of August in Scotland, as opposed to the last Monday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Bank holidays do not, however, assume the same importance in Scotland as they do elsewhere. Whereas they have effectively become public holidays elsewhere in the United Kingdom, in Scotland there remains a tradition of public holidays based on local tradition and determined by local authorities (for example, the Glasgow Fair and the Dundee Fortnight). In 1996, Scottish banks made the business decision to harmonise their own holidays with the rest of the United Kingdom, with the result that 'bank holidays' in Scotland are neither public holidays nor the days on which banks are closed.

In the Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland, the term "public holiday" is used officially, though "bank holiday" is used colloquially.

Good Friday is not a public holiday, though banks and public institutions are closed. The Summer Bank Holiday is also the first Monday in August rather than the last. A June Bank Holiday takes the place of the Spring Bank Holiday. Easter Monday and St Patrick's Day both qualify as National Days in the Republic.

The most recent public holiday to be added was May Day (sometimes wrongly called Labour Day). This holiday is taken as the first Monday in May, and was introduced in 1994. Recently, senior politicians (including Ruairi Quinn) have been considering the addition of one or two extra public holidays to bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe.

Campaigns for extra bank holidays

The number of holidays in the UK is relatively small compared to that in many other European countries. However, direct comparison is inaccurate since the 'substitute day' scheme of deferment does not apply in most European countries, where holidays that coincide with a weekend (29% of fixed-date holidays) are 'lost'. In fact, the average number of non-weekend holidays in such countries is only marginally higher (and in some cases lower) than the UK.

There have been calls for an increase in the number of bank holidays.[11] Among the most notably absent dates from the existing list are the feast days of patron saints; 23 April (St George's Day) in England and 1 March (St David's Day) in Wales are not currently recognised. 17 March (St Patrick's Day) is a public holiday in Northern Ireland and, since 2008, 30 November (St Andrew's Day) is a bank holiday in Scotland. St Piran's Day (patron saint of Cornwall) on the 5 March is already given as an unofficial day off to many government and other workers in the county, and there are renewed calls for the government to recognise this as an official bank holiday in the region.[12][13]

The Government as of 2008 has stated "we have no plans to change the current pattern of Bank Holidays, but we are nevertheless considering all these suggestions carefully".[14] In response to a parliamentary question about St George's Day, Gordon Brown stated that it is "for public debate" whether it should become a holiday.[citation needed] If it did, it would be eight days before the May holiday in some years, and very close to Easter in others.

Proposed move of May Day Bank Holiday (England and Wales)

After the election of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the Department of Culture Media and Sport launched a pre-Consultation in 2011 which included the suggestion of moving the May Day Bank Holiday to a date in October, to be a "UK Day" or to "Trafalgar Day" (21st October) or move the holiday to St David's day and St George's day. [15]

In India

In Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the term "bank holiday" is used colloquially to refer to public holidays, since banks are normally closed on these days. Hong Kong has maintained a distinction between public holidays and statutory holidays; the number of days for the latter is fewer.

See also


  1. ^ "Bank holidays and British Summer Time : Directgov - Government, citizens and rights". 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  2. ^ a b Anon (22 May 2007). "Bank Holiday Fact File". TUC prss release. TUC. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Olmert, Michael (1996). Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser & Curiouser Adventures in History, p.170. Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-80164-7.
  4. ^ "Bank Holidays (Ireland) Bill". Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament. UK Parliament. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  5. ^ Ready, Nigel P.; Brooke, Richard (2002), Brooke's notary (12 ed.), Sweet & Maxwell, p. 479, ISBN 9780421672802 
  6. ^ Scrope, Henry; Barnett, Daniel (2008), Employment Law Handbook (4 ed.), Henry Scrope, p. 135, ISBN 9781853286742 
  7. ^ McWhirter, Norris; Stowe, Moira F. (1980), The Guinness book of answers: a handbook of general knowledge (3 ed.), Guinness Superlatives, p. 7, ISBN 9780851122021 
  8. ^ Morrow, Thomas. "Bank Holidays a history". Bank Holidays a history by Thomas Morrow. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Great Britain Parliament House of Lords European Union Committee (2007), Modernising European Union labour law: has the UK anything to gain?, report with evidence, 22nd report of session 2006-07, The Stationery Office, p. 100, ISBN 9780104851715 
  10. ^ "Royal Wedding: Prince William and Kate set date" BBC Online: Accessed 23rd November, 2010
  11. ^ Union leaders are campaigning for an extra bank holiday BBC News 27 October 2004
  12. ^ "Renewed call for St Piran holiday". BBC News. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  13. ^ Gledhill, Ruth (5 March 2009). "Cornwall workers given an unofficial day off for St Pirans Day". The Times (London). Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  14. ^ supportstgeorge - epetition response
  15. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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