Labour will introduce four new public holidays to reduce working hours and bring the UK together
Today, St Andrew’s Day, Jeremy Corbyn will reiterate Labour’s commitment to introduce UK-wide bank holidays for each of the patron saints of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Labour will work with the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to agree four more UK-wide public holidays. These would be held on St David’s Day (1st March), St Patrick’s Day (17th March), St George’s Day (23rd April) and St Andrew’s Day (30th November).
Despite people in the UK working some of the longest hours in Europe, the Conservative’s manifesto offers nothing to reduce working hours or increase holiday leave. With only eight public holidays, the UK currently has the fewest of any G20 or EU country, giving workers less time to spend with their family and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
This change would give workers a much needed break and work to bring the four nations of the UK together after nine years of divisive policies pursued by the Conservative government.
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“I am patriotic about the UK and what that means to me is caring for the entire society.
“Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else.
“Labour will work with the devolved governments to introduce four bank holidays for the whole of the UK, one for each of our patron Saints.
“Labour would bring the number of public holidays workers enjoy in line with countries across Europe and give people more time with their families and friends.”
Christina Rees, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Wales, said:
“The Conservatives continue to fail the people of Wales, having slashed our budgets and treated us with contempt. Under the Tories, people have been forced to work harder but for less.
“Labour believes in working together to improve the lives of everyone. That includes making sure they have a decent work-life balance.
“This policy will finally make Saint David’s day a bank holiday and bring the UK in line with other major economies, providing workers with a much needed rest while celebrating the best of Welsh culture with the world.”
Lesley Laird, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Scotland, said:
“Our country is divided by the English nationalism of the Conservative Party on one side and the divisive politics of the SNP on the other.
“Scottish Labour believe that the best solutions are those which involve working together for the good of all rather than the benefit of the few. That is why a Labour government would introduce four new bank holidays across the UK to honour each of our patron saints.
“St Andrew’s Day celebrates the great traditions of our nation. Under a Labour government it would become a bank holiday for the whole of the UK, giving workers a break and emphasising our shared heritage.”
Notes to editors
- The UK has the lowest number of public holidays of the major economies – 8 compared with a G20 average of 12. Four extra holidays would take us to the G20 average.
- On average, workers in the UK work some of the longest hours in Europe. One study estimated the usual weekly working hours for full-time employees as over 42 in the UK compared to 38.5 in Denmark. https://progressiveeconomyforum.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/PEF_Skidelsky_How_to_achieve_shorter_working_hours.pdf
- Despite working long hours, the UK lags behind other G7 countries in terms of productivity. 2018 figures (the most recent available) found that compared with the rest of the G7, the UK had below average real productivity growth in both output per hour and output per worker terms in 2016.