Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 11 January 2010

Psst! We're Getting Another Bank Holiday

Whilst the media had a feeding frenzy over the state of our weather last week, our government chose to announce we're getting another Bank Holiday (aka public holiday) ... in 2012. I'm wondering if they carefully choose days to bury good news as well as bad. What do you think?

Assuming our illustrious sovereign keeps going for another 2 years, we'll be having Tuesday, June 5th off to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. The late May Bank Holiday will be moved to the Monday, so we'll have a long weekend, just like we did for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Order your bunting and start organising your street party now!

My beautiful RHS diary has a fascinating page at the back showing all the public holidays of various European countries. France has 14, Germany 17 and Spain 16. Lithuania has the most with a whopping 18 and the average across the 28 countries listed is 13.9. We get a miserly 8 most years (as does poor Romania), though Northern Ireland manages 10 public holidays per year, and Scotland's MSPs voted in 2006 in favour of a voluntary extra day off to mark St. Andrews Day, so actually we're not that consistent across Britain.

I always feel a bit grumpy after reading that part of my diary, but I'm heartened to hear there is a growing lobby for us to have an extra public holiday on a regular basis. The TUC are leading the campaign and a recent survey shows that the majority of 150 MPs asked are in favour too. I've often seen Armistice Day in November suggested for this: I would agree as long as the day focused on peace rather than war. I'm much more in favour of the campaign for us to have a Community Day on the last Monday in October.

A number of companies, including the most recent one I worked for already have a similar scheme where employees are given an extra day off per year for voluntary service. No activity approved = no extra day off. In many cases it's turned into a team building exercise where everyone turns out for a project, such as decorating a local community centre. These organisations already recognise this kind of activity delivers real benefits to their company in addition to the many thousands of extra volunteer hours available to make a difference somewhere.

If that's the case for the more enlightened companies, then why not extend the concept nationwide? It would be a day of positive action and also break up the long run from our August Bank Holiday up to Christmas. If you think we can't afford it as a nation, then have a look at the arguments for having such a day here.

Do you think it's a good idea? If it happens would you spend the day as suggested, or perhaps you see it as a good excuse for an extra lie-in, or maybe something else?

9 comments:

  1. I heard about the extra bank holiday on Radio 4 the other day and I'm happy to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. I think she works so hard for so little thanks!

    I think the idea of a Community Day is an excellent one and I'd be happy to get out there clearing rivers, litter picking or whatever would best benefit our local environment!

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  2. Hmm.. mixed feelings here. We invariably use Bank Holidays as "jobs on the house" weekends in order to escape the holiday crowds. I guess I wouldn't mind more time for jobs on the house - it saves paying someone else to do them and the money can be spent on doing something fun at a quieter time.

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  3. BTW I'd like to spend the day organising bulb planting and other growy related activities on our estate.

    Nutty Gnome - I've had lots of experience in clearing rivers, so I could join you on that one!

    Arabella - perhaps this would be a chance to go against what you usually do and do something different that pleases you for a change?

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  4. Yes it was announced rather sneakily :) We do not go out on bank holidays. A long story but partly because himself works shifts and partly because the only time we ever did we ended up in a ginormous traffic jam - car overheated etc, etc. I never heard the end of it :) Now that I am not working, I am lucky to have enough leisure time at my disposal, so bank holidays no longer have the same feeling about them. So I would be quite happy to be involved in a Community Day as long as it was fairly local :)

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  5. Hi there VP .. we were amazed with how many holidays the Dutch/Belgium and German people have when we lived there .. our idiot provincial head (for which we did NOT vote for) gave us a "family day" on his election platform .. we all thought THAT was STUPID .. but aren't all politicians basically ? LOL
    Joy : )

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  6. In many ways I would love extra Bank Holidays; it does allow a bit more time for hard working people to have some rest & relaxation which they need. However lots of people these days do not get the actual BH off as many places work as normal, we don't actually go anywhere as places tend to get a bit packed or you have to sit in a queue to get there & from a purely selfish point of view, in my 'proper job'I work part time & am allocated 1/2 the BH hours in my leave allowance but as I always work on a Monday have to take more leave than I get! Only a minor humph really.

    On the last Silver Jubilee special BH we had a fantastic street party so I hope we will do the same again. Who said London was an unfriendly place.

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  7. From a personal perspective it won't matter either way now I am retired. When I was at work it was always such a treat to have an extra day off.

    However there are so many emergency services that have to work it is only a percentage of people who get the bank holiday anyway. It would be nicer to give everyone an extra day to take when they chose.

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  8. I think every Monday should be a bank holiday. At one fell swoop Monday blues will disappear and Friday would be that bit closer :-)

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  9. Anna - I'd go with a local event too.

    Joy - I couldn't possibly comment ;)

    Ms B - but don't most people get time off in lieu? My colleagues used to. As for the friendliness of London, I've already blogged on how surprised I've been by it. And yes, we had a great street party in 2002 as well :)

    Joanne - I'm retired too, but holidays are still special in my book. I would imagine lots of working people would welcome the suggested day as it's also half term, so those with families would welcome an extra day where they don't have to worry about childcare.

    EG - tee hee. In my last job I ended up working 4 days a week and chose ednesday as my extra day off, because it's never too far away to the next time off!

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