More Bank Holidays
Won’t Help Employees
Labour have announced a policy to provide a further four bank holidays, arguing that the UK has fewer bank holidays than other G20 countries.
We’ll have to await Labour’s manifesto to see how this policy would be delivered, but there is no suggestion at the moment that the extra bank holidays would be accompanied by any increase to the actual annual leave that a worker would have. And that makes some sense given the justification for the proposals – the average bank holidays, not the average total annual leave – as when considered in total, the UK has more generous annual leave allowances than the G20 average (about 16 days), and also more than the average paid leave even among the EU (23 days), compared to the UK minimum of 28 days.
But without an increase in the actual leave provided, how could this policy provide a well-earned break that isn’t already available? More likely, this policy could result in some workers having even less control over their annual leave: if the employer closes on bank holidays, and fairly requires staff to take leave for these breaks, staff would have little more than three weeks of their annual leave that they could apply to take at a time of their choosing.
The only issue for employers is making sure their annual leave policies provide only the amount of annual leave that they want to grant: terms such as “20 days leave plus bank holidays” could cost a lot more come June if Labour were to get elected, as what is currently 8 days suddenly became 12 days.
 The figures used in this article are based on the latest published stats from the International Labour Organisation.