COLUMN: Are we given enough annual Bank Holidays?

There's nothing nicer when one of Britain's eight annual Bank Holidays rolls around and you're given the luxury of an extra day off to do with what you please.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 6:00 am

Chances are, most people reading this will be enjoying the final day of their three-day weekend.

And why not? According to Government figures, adults in Britain spend an average of 1,677 hours of their year slogging away at work so surely we deserve a few extra days here and there for ourselves.

The history of our official Bank Holidays date back to 1871, when they were first recognised in an Act of Parliament authored by Sir John Lubbock.

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St Lubbock was a banker who is believed to have been so keen on cricket that he chose dates when village matches were played in his home county.

Since then we have gradually seen the number of Bank Holidays increase to eight, with the last one - May Day, which marks international Workers’ Day - added in 1971.

But while being given an eight extra days off a year is pretty wonderful, and should be regarded as a privilege, British workers enjoy the fewest number of Bank Holidays in Europe, along with the Netherlands. Globally, only Mexico has fewer Bank Holidays than we do, with a total of seven every year.

Colombia and India have the most Bank Holidays with some 18 annual days off followed by Lebanon, South Korea and Thailand with 16 and Finland and Japan on 15. Comparatively, Britain has a pretty raw deal. Which begs the question, should we be asking for more Bank Holidays? Previous campaigns have seen the Trades Union Congress argue that the Government should give workers’ an extra Bank Holiday on the third Monday of October. This followed a poll of its members, which found that 41 per cent of those asked were in favour of being given an extra day off.

And following 2016’s leapyear, hundreds of people backed a petition to turn February 29 into a Bank Holiday. Businesses however, say that extra bank holidays would hurt the UK economy. Commenting when the idea was first touted, CBI Director-General, Digby Jones said: “Everyone likes the idea of more time off, but most people realize that it can’t come without cost. In a fiercely competitive global economy we need to be ahead of other countries in attracting investment and creating jobs.”

Currently, employers are not legally obliged to give us paid leave on public or Bank Holidays. So while an extra day off would be nice, I think we should first turn our attention to getting bosses to fork out for Bank Holiday pay.