Saturday, March 8, 2008

A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom and also in the Republic of Ireland. Although there is no legal right to time off on these days, the majority of the population not employed in essential services (e.g. utilities, fire, ambulance, police, health-care workers) receive them as holidays; those employed in essential services usually receive extra pay for working on these days. Bank holidays are so called because they are days upon which banks are shut and therefore (traditionally) no other businesses could operate. Legislation allows certain payments to be deferred to the next working day.

History of bank holidays
Exactly a century after the 1871 Act, the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which currently regulates bank holidays in the UK, was passed. The table below details the bank holidays specified in the 1971 Act; also listed are New Year's Day and May Day, introduced since 1971. These are deemed bank holidays by the legal device of a royal proclamation every year. In January 2007, the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act was given royal assent, making 30 November (or the nearest Monday if a weekend) a bank holiday in Scotland.
Royal proclamation is also used to shift 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.

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.
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 Elizabeth II.
Strictly, Boxing Day is the first weekday after Christmas, so it cannot fall on a Sunday. If Christmas Day is a Saturday, then Boxing Day is the following Monday, although in practice, this is often ignored since both the Monday and the Tuesday will be public holidays in addition to the normal weekend. The traditional name for a Sunday which coincides with the 26th of December is Christmas Sunday, with the following Monday actually being Boxing Day. Scotland
It has been noted that the number of holidays in the UK is relatively small compared to the number in many other European countries. However, direct comparison is inaccurate since the 'holiday in lieu' scheme of deferrment 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 marginally higher (and in some cases lower) than the UK.
There have been calls for an increase in the number of bank holidays, particularly for recognising April 23 (St George's Day) in England and March 1 (St David's Day) in Wales to have a public holiday on the feast day of the relevant patron saint. March 17 (St Patrick's Day) is already a bank holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and, from 2007, November 30 (St Andrew's Day) is a bank holiday in Scotland. There are also calls for new national bank holidays such as one to represent the United Kingdom, British Day (possibly part of Gordon Brown's new Britishness policy), Trafalgar Day as a result of the recent bicentennial, Community Day to celebrate volunteering and communities, Waterloo Day and also one to represent the European Union, making Europe Day a bank holiday, and one to represent the monarchy such as the Queen's Birthday (as in Australia, New Zealand and Canada) or coronation.

Bank holidays Prospective new bank holidays
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.
Where public holidays fall at the weekend, an employee is entitled (at the employer's choice) to one of the following: a day off within a month, an additional day's paid annual leave or an additional day's pay. The employer can also choose one of these for regular public holidays, but this is rare. The public holiday does not, officially, move to the next weekday, but the usual practice is to take the day off on the next available weekday. A rarely-chosen alternative is to move to the previous or next church holiday.
The most recent public holiday to be added was Labour Day (often called May Day). This holiday is taken as the first Monday in May, and was introduced in 1994. Recently, senior politicians (including Ruairi Quinn TD) have been considering the addition of one or two extra public holidays to bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe.

United States

St. David's Day
St. Andrew's Day
St. Patrick's Day
St. George's Day
Trafalgar Day
UK national holidays
UK topics

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