With the general election fast approaching, Labour government have stated that they would seek to create four new bank holidays.One for each of the patron saints of the nations of the UK, St David’s Day on 1 March, St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, St George’s Day on 23 April and St Andrew’s Day on 30 November.
Given that currently the UK has fewer bank holidays than most other industrialised countries, Labour claims that this is much needed and that it would be compensation for employees working increasingly long hours at home as well as in the workplace.
There are obvious benefits that shorter weeks bring to the workplace, for example giving employees a better work-life balance, a decrease in stress levels and mental health problems, and simply a happier environment. From an individual’s point of view this sounds great first off, but with these extra days, this gives us a total of 7 bank holidays just within the months of March, April and May, leaving the other 9 months of the year just as stressful and demanding as before. It may be more beneficial to a persons physical and mental well-being if the days were spread out throughout the course of the year rather than crammed into a few months.
When looking at the cost of having more days away from work, we must also question; can we really afford this time off? One study suggested that each bank holiday costs the UK over £2bn, so if these four new ones appeared it would cost the UK economy £10bn – about a fifth of the country’s huge £50bn deficit, leaving many business under a lot of added strain. It is argued however, that these additional days off will benefit retail and hospitality businesses and lead to a rise in Tourism, giving the country extra money that way.
What are your views as an employee or an employer? Is this a chance for workers to spend more time with their friends and families, whilst reducing the amount of stress put on them at work, or is this an unnecessary and expensive addition to the already bank holiday filled months of Spring?