What are bank holidays?

Bank holidays were first introduced by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. There are currently six bank holidays in England and Wales plus two public holidays (Christmas Day and Good Friday), making a total of eight public holidays.

Workers in Scotland have the same public holidays as those in England and Wales, plus an additional day – St Andrew's Day – making a total of nine. Workers in Northern Ireland have the same bank and public holidays as in England and Wales, plus an additional two days – St Patrick's Day and Battle of the Boyne Day – making a total of ten.

Although bank holidays are widely observed by UK employers, they are not a statutory right. Your contract of employment will mention whether you have an entitlement to holiday on these days.

Some employers used to include bank holidays within the four week European minimum annual leave, rather than allowing them in addition to the four weeks. In October 2007, following union campaigning, eight days were added to a full-timer's leave entitlement, thereby ensuring that people get 5.6 weeks (i.e. four weeks plus public holidays).

Visit the GOV.UK website to see the full calendar of upcoming bank holidays.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.