Bank Holidays are days of the year when
there is a general day off from work. Originally these were days when
banks shut and so this took away the ability of many other businesses to
operate normally and so there was a general shut down of all work places
on these days.
The first official recognition in law came about in 1871 with the Bank
Holidays Act. For the first time days which would be classed as official
bank Holidays were laid out. Notably the act omitted Christmas Day and
Good Friday as these were already recognised as days of rest. The act
was incorporated into the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971
along with some additional dates. Dates added after the act are setout
annually by Royal Proclamation.
There had been many national days of holiday before this time and pre
1834 these numbered 33.
In modern times it's become more and more common for some class of
workers, for example employees in the larger retail stores, to continue
to work on these days but as 2 or 3 times their normal salary. Banks
still all closed and the majority of businesses shut but enough remain
open to provide a basic range of services. Those involved in the
emergency services will also largely remain at work on these days.
There always calls for extra days to be set aside for bank holidays and
for all manner of events to be recognised in such a way, for example
some people are asking for a British Day, a Europe Day and for the
Queens Birthday to be marked with a national holiday.
Oweing to differences in national history between the four countries
that makeup the UK, (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) bank
holidays are not consistent between each country, with certain countries
having their own holidays not taken as national holidays in the other
countries. However in reality only those common dates set out in statute
or proclamation are days off. National days off not declared in statute
or proclamation are just that, national holidays and not bank holidays.
Certain bank holidays are fixed in date but if they occur on a weekend
they are then deferred to the next working day, for example Christmas
Day and Boxing Day. If they both occur on a Saturday and a Sunday they
the Monday and Tuesday become the bank holidays.
Its worth noting that even though the days themselves are set aside and
recognized there is no actual statutory right to have a day off on these
days. It would very hard to find a company that didn't recognize these
days as paid days of leave but the bottom line is whether or not a
worker is entitled to the day off is down to their contractual rights.