From the TUC

Royal Wedding: Give workers a day off to toast Will and Kate

19 Nov 2010, by in Working Life

David Cameron is right to say that he’s in favour of creating a one-off bank holiday to celebrate the Royal Wedding. I’m only a very lukewarm Royalist at best, but I still have happy memories of the 1973 and 1981 Royal Wedding Bank Holidays, which I spent having a good time at local street parties.

UK workers have been very hard pressed during the last couple of years and its time that they got something to cheer them up. With another special bank holiday for the Queens Diamond Jubilee already announced for June 2012, the Government should now think again about introducing Community Day as a permanent bank holiday in 2013.

The announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton drew a very positive response from public, press and government alike, with the PM saying that he wanted the occasion “to be a day of national celebration” and said that he was in favour of an extra day off.

The only fly in the ointment has been the response of the CBI, who said that an extra bank holiday would be a terrible idea and would cost the UK £6 billion. The TUC disputes this estimate. It’s three times as high as the estimate produced by the Treasury as an argument against new bank holidays, and we also thought was too high because it excluded the stimulus to business that occurred in certain sectors (tourism, retail , hospitality and transport have some of the best trading days on bank holidays).

Taking these gains into account, we estimate that the average economic cost of a standard bank holiday is more likely to be in the region of £1.2 billion. There are also some personnel gains from extra holidays with, for example, research suggesting that each extra day away from work reduced sickness absence by 1/20th.

There will still be a substantial cost, but some costs are worth paying if we are not to become machines that live merely to work.

The TUC and its voluntary sector partners (NCVO, CSV, NAVCA, and Volunteering England) are calling for a new Community Day Bank holiday in the autumn. This would encourage volunteering and community activity, using galas in towns and villages across the UK as a focus for increased engagement in our people-friendly vision of the Big Society.

We would expect the extra value to society generated by community day to make the new holiday almost cost neutral. Given that we could well have one off bank holidays in 2011 and 2012 anyway, the Government could announce that Community Day will start in October 2013, and we could then get on with planning for this event.

Precedent suggests that a bank holiday should be declared to mark the weddings of the most senior members of the Royal Family, as was the case with the wedding of Princess Anne in 1973 and Prince Charles in 1981.

Other one-off public holidays have included the millennium bank holiday (2000 AD), the queen’s Silver jubilee in 1977 and the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

4 Responses to Royal Wedding: Give workers a day off to toast Will and Kate

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    Nov 19th 2010, 1:35 pm

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  2. Pete
    Nov 19th 2010, 4:06 pm

    Tax payers in Britain are paying for the wedding so they should be able to have the day off to celebrate it. I’ve heard the argument that tax money being spent is justified because of the ‘feel good’ atmosphere a Royal Wedding generates. Same reasoning applies for justification for a day off.

  3. Keith Jump
    Nov 19th 2010, 5:04 pm

    As a matter of historical accuracy, Princess Anne’s wedding on Wednesday 14th. November 1973 was NOT a bank holiday but it was a widely observed school holiday throughout the country. Charles’ and Diana’s wedding on Wednesday 29th. July 1981 was a bank holiday and was accompanied by many street parties(unlikely in November). Hopefully the proposed bank holiday for William and Kate in 2011, and the diamond jubilee holiday in 2012 will herald a permanent extra holiday as from OCTOBER 2013 to launch Community Day ( possibly on a Friday for a change). This has been advocated for some time and a break between August and Christmas is long overdue – despite the mean-spirited attitude of the CBI who seem to think the ‘workers’ should permanently have their nose to the grindstone.

  4. The FactCheck Blog – The £2.9bn Royal Wedding bank holiday
    Nov 23rd 2010, 5:45 pm

    […] contrast, the TUC, who have long advocated for an extra bank holiday, put the total lower at £1.2bn. But this figure offsets the cost against the amount a bank holiday would bring in through the […]