Bank Holidays Act 1871 to thank for your lie-in

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.
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Bank Holidays aren’t what they used to be if you work in retail, as it’s highly likely you will be doing a shift.

It was ever thus for many social care and health care professionals. However, for many others they are still a welcome day of rest.

For those who relish a lie in, or a day in the garden, or whatever else you do with an extra-long weekend, we have the Bank Holidays Act 1871 to thank for the privilege.

The 1871 Act introduced four designated Bank Holidays. In England these were Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August and 26th December. From the start the regime was slightly different and remains so in other parts of the United Kingdom.

One hundred years later, the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 repealed and replaced the earlier statute.

In 1971 Whit Monday was formally replaced by a fixed spring holiday on the last Monday in May and the last Monday in August replaced the first Monday in August. These measures and been piloted between 1965 and 1970.

A few years later, in England, New Year’s Day became an additional bank holiday in 1974 and the first Monday in May likewise in 1978.

The term “bank” holiday is often used interchangeably with “public” holiday. Public holidays such as Christmas Day and Good Friday have arisen through custom and in that sense are “common law” holidays.

In the context of employment law, there is no difference between bank holidays and public holidays. The 1971 Act does not entitle workers to annual leave.

The purpose of the Act was to suspend financial and other legal dealings on bank holidays.

The right or not to leave from work on public or bank holidays will be found in an employee’s employment contract.

At my firm ,Joseph A. Jones & Co, one custom we are fond of is the tradition for legal offices to close for an extra day after the Easter, late May and August Bank Holidays.

More ruthless local law firms have dropped it and reopen on the Tuesday with the rest of the world of commerce, but at our firm we are loathe to surrender our double lie in.