Time to lose the British Bank holiday?

Bank Holidays can often be a nightmare for HR teams where long weekend requests quickly mount up beforehand, staff productivity drops, management motivation drains and suspected alcohol-related absences mount up the following week after a holiday.

Simon Dalley: BrightHR Brand Marketing Manager

Whether you use absence management software such as BrightHR, or are still reliant on paper or spreadsheets, bank holidays can be a headache.

It’s estimated that the Easter break costs our economy something in the region of £4.7billion and estimated that all eight bank holidays in the UK cost the economy just under £20billion annually!

At some point or another, these reasons may make you pose the question “do employees get too many bank holidays in the UK?” or perhaps even “should we get rid of bank holidays altogether?”. Most people appreciate Bank Holidays, however, as a busy HR professional, you might from time to time find yourself in the ‘Let’s cut down the number of Bank Holidays’ camp.

By reducing the number of Bank Holidays in the UK, we could raise the number of hours worked by Brits to similar levels of various countries we compete with internationally — although that may not help our national productivity, as many staff without enough breaks over the year would be in the doldrums!

With figures like the ones above, business owners around the UK could probably be excused for occasionally cursing the Bank Holiday system in the UK. OK, so businesses that are based in offices, factories and those in construction are probably worst hit by bank holidays, but while not every industry loses out to these annual breaks, there are plenty of beneficiaries of the Bank Holiday system - think retail, leisure and wholesale.

The thing is, those businesses that gain from bank holidays are in a smaller percentage than those who take a hit from the costs of managing and coping with the increased demands on a company’s HR services.

Of course, taking the decision to reduce the number of UK Bank Holidays, would always fall to being a social question than an economic one. With the rise of workplace automation, it may be time to start thinking about taking even more time out of the workplace to concentrate on areas of our lives that are more socially important.

So better than asking if there are too many bank holidays, we should instead question if they could be spaced out better. By spacing bank holidays out, businesses would be more likely to benefit from a well-rested and socially connected work force, increasing productivity and maintaining momentum between breaks.

Until then, unless you’re part of a lobby group driving for the reduction in the number of Bank Holidays then there’s not a great deal that you can do about them. They’re part of modern working life and don’t appear to be going anywhere.

We think that the best thing to do is learn how to better cope with their challenge by getting your teams together, planning annually for Bank Holidays and start looking for that city break bargain to make the most of it yourself. Our software gives you and the managers in the company a great overview and schedule of who wants time off, taking the stress out of approving those extra holiday requests that inevitably pop up. This gives you more time to focus on the people led issues, and less on the operational headaches that bank holiday paperwork can bring.

Planning for Bank Holidays will ensure your business doesn’t unnecessarily stall whilst key members of the team are away for certain periods, thereby reducing the potential for loss of productivity or products and keeping the UK happy and healthy through their holidays.