The terms are widely and interchangeably used (even by Government departments!), but there are a couple of little known facts that might just win you that Christmas office Pub Quiz this year!
British Bank Holidays are in fact holidays that have been recognised since 1871 and are set each year by royal proclamation. Originally there were just four: Easter Monday, Whit Monday (a date set between 11th May and 14th June), first Monday in August and Boxing Day. These were the dates when banks were closed and no trading could take place.
In 1971, the first Monday in August was changed to the last Monday in August and Whit Monday became the last Monday in May; in 1974, New Year’s Day became an additional Bank Holiday; in 1978, the first Monday in May became an additional Bank Holiday.
There are laws that allow the dates of Bank Holidays to be changed, or other holidays to be declared, such as 29th April in 2011 to celebrate the Royal Wedding. In 2012, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the late May Bank Holiday is actually being moved to Monday 4th June and an additional Jubilee Bank Holiday set for Tuesday 5th June.
What about Good Friday and Christmas Day? Well, they were never set as Bank Holidays and, strictly speaking, they are actually known as common law holidays or customary holidays.
So, Bank Holidays are generally referred to as Public Holidays, as they are frequently taken as public holidays, but Good Friday and Christmas Day are actually the only public holidays ‘by convention’ or common law.
Many employees do not realise that there is no statutory right to be paid leave on either Bank or Public Holidays – it all depends on what it says in their contracts of employment!
Whether you take them as Bank or Public Holidays, have a SAFE and HAPPY CHRISTMAS