The TUC this week called on lawmakers to increase the volume of bank holiday weekends for those in Britain, calling the current number ‘stingy’.
Professionals in England today returned to work following the final bank holiday until the festive season. For many, the long weekend will have been a much-needed respite in a year that has tested them both mentally and physically.
However, with just eight bank holidays currently in the calendar – four fewer than the EU average and half the number in Japan, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady has called on the Government to increase the volume for UK workers by creating a new bank holiday between September and Christmas.
“It would be a great way to thank working Britain for getting us through these tough times," O'Grady told the BBC.
"The August Bank Holiday will be a welcome break for everyone working hard to get us through the pandemic - especially those on the front line.
"But after August, there's no national holiday until Christmas. And that's because the number of holidays we get is so stingy compared to other nations," O'Grady added.
England even pales in comparison with neighbours Scotland and Northern Ireland, with nine and ten public holidays respectively.
However, in response to the call, a representative for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy warned that any additional leave would have severe ramifications for the economy.
"The current pattern of public and bank holidays is well established and whilst an additional bank holiday may benefit some communities and sectors, the cost to the economy of an additional bank holiday is considerable," they said.
Yet according to data released by the TUC, the UK trails behind every country in the EU with the current volume of bank holidays in the calendar. Countries such as Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland give workers 15 days off.
The EU average is 12.8 days a year, the TUC noted, adding that all UK workers ‘should get at least 12 public holidays’.
The trade union is now calling for a wider debate on the issue. "It's time for a national conversation - when should our new holidays be? What might they celebrate?" added O'Grady.
"An autumn holiday to break the long stretch to Christmas would be a good start."
Burnout and annual leave
Whilst the concept may have negative ramifications for the economy, it may also have a positive impact on worker mental health and wellbeing.
Burnout is on the rise, with Indeed data finding that over half of workers are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who said the same in Indeed’s pre-COVID survey.
The same study ascertained that workers require additional annual leave every 43 days to avoid succumbing to the pressures of burnout, with seven in ten agreeing they suffer fatigue and feel rundown if they go too long without taking an extended break.