It appears that the latest bright idea to improve UK productivity is to think about scrapping Bank Holidays. Whilst this may seem sensible to you there are a few things to bear in mind. With most women in the UK working these days Bank Holiday weekends often offer family time. They usually are timed to coincide with school holidays also. Without them many families would be looking at extra care provision.Of course not everyone is lucky enough to have a Bank Holiday away from work. Having worked for more than seven years in museums this blogger is all too well aware of that. Until the recent UK government restrictions in the NHS this blogger worked Bank Holidays on a regular basis.
The point is that as long as a day is deemed a Bank Holiday it attracts an incentive to work. Some work-forces allow workers to choose who wants to work the holiday. There are always some workers were money is the most important consideration and others were it is time.
Those on "staff" who do not receive the Bank Holiday perk if you like to call it that tend to have higher salaries which have taken this into account.
The latest "think tank" (nice work if you can get it) feels that the UK spends too much money on paying staff to take bank holiday or statutory leave from work. It has highlighted the extra bank holiday given for the Royal Wedding in 2011 and the Queen's Jubilee in 2012. Well just let me reassure you that the majority of people in the UK would have been happy to by pass these two days. An overkill of Royal News meant that most people who could afford it hopped it abroad for a sunny vacation.
The argument that less UK bank holidays would help the UK economy is flawed. With escalating unemployment there are few jobs.Bank Holiday day trippers help support struggling seaside economies, museums, galleries, country pubs and more.
Of course look back to the Britain of Charles Dickens and you will see that workers were lucky to get one day off work a year. Is that what we are aiming for again? The current bank holiday entitlements have been in force throughout my life time, except for the New Year's day holiday. his was brought in during the seventies, I think, after so many people continually failed to turn up for work on that day.
Around the world do people look at the UK Bank Holidays and think too many such holidays. I doubt it and they certainly should not. The figures show that the UK is the least generous as far as such entitlements go.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) think tank maintains that "Each bank holiday costs the UK economy £2.3bn and scrapping them would boost annual output by £19bn". Does it now. It has suggested that if not scrapped they should be spread out differently throughout the year. It also claims that the UK depends more in Public Sector workers. That's debatable in view of current job losses.
Bank Holiday Figures:
The governor of the Bank of England has previously said that the UK economy might contract during the second quarter of this year due to BHs. This of course is due to the government moving one bank holiday and tagging a 2012 one on to the one designated for the Jubilee.
Fixed Bank Holidays at least allow couples who both work to maybe get leave together. Timing annual leave for both people's to coincide can prove difficult.
One has to wonder if the think tank has considered the overly long breaks that Parliament enjoys in Summer, Winter Easter and alll. Of course as they are non productive theirs probably will not matter.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog