British bank holidays are Public Holidays and have been recognized since 1871. The name Bank Holiday comes from the time when banks were shut and so no trading could take place.
The 1971 Act - four holidays
The 1871 Act designated four holidays in England, Wales and Ireland (then wholly part of the UK), and five in Scotland.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Easter Monday,
- The first Monday in August (later changed to the last Monday),
- Boxing Day (26th December),
- Whit Monday
- New Year's Day
- Good Friday
- The first Monday in May
- The first Monday in August
- Christmas Day
Bank holidays Today
There is currently a total of 8 permanent bank and public holidays in England, Wales and Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland. These include Christmas Day and Good Friday, which in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are common law' holidays (they are not specified by law as bank holidays but have become customary holidays because of common observance).
St Patrick's Day (17 March) became a bank holiday for Ireland only.
Whit Monday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (which could fall anywhere between 11 May and 14 June) was formally replaced by a fixed spring holiday on the last Monday in May. The last Monday in August was formally made a bank holiday in place of the first Monday in August in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
2 January became an additional bank holiday in Scotland
New Year's Day became an additional bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Boxing Day became an additional bank holiday in Scotland.
The first Monday in May in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the last Monday in May in Scotland, became additional bank holidays.
Are shops open on bank holidays?
Even though banks are still closed on these days many shops today now remain open. Shops, museums and other public attractions, such as historic houses and sports centres, may close on certain public holidays, particularly Christmas Day.
Traditionally many businesses close on Bank Holidays to enable the workers to have a holiday. This time is often spent with the family on mini breaks and outings. Because of this, anyone who works on Bank Holidays usually gets paid extra - "time-and-a-half" or even "double time," negotiated for them by the Trades Unions.
Do workers automatically get a day off on Bank Holidays?
Workers do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. If paid leave is given on a bank or public holiday, this may count towards the statutory requirement for 24 days holiday.
Scotland has nine public holidays:
- New Year's Day (or in lieu of 1 Jan, if a Saturday or Sunday)
- 2 January (or in lieu of 2 Jan, if a Saturday or Sunday)
- Good Friday
- Early May Bank Holiday - May Day (not necessarily 1 May),
- Spring Holiday at the end of May
- Late Summer Holiday at the beginning of August
- St Andrew's Day* (or in lieu of 30 Nov, if a Saturday or Sunday)
- Boxing Day (or in lieu of 26 Dec, if a Sunday)
*In January 2007, the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act was given royal assent, making 30 November (or the nearest Monday if a weekend) a bank holiday in Scotland.More info : http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/bankholidays.html