Should UK follow Portugal and scrap bank holidays?
Filed under: Career
An average bank holiday costs the economy £2.3bn, the CEBR says, and though retail outlets see the benefits of the Easter and annual May Day holidays, it argues that this sector only contributes 14% to the UK economy compared to the impact of closing factories, offices and construction sites which account for 47%.
According to the CBI, the extra days off between June 2nd-5th for the Jubilee celebrations will impact the UK's second quarter figures, with growth expected to remain flat because the holiday's late timing in the quarter will not allow enough time for the economy to recovery before the next set of figures is announced. The CBI believes the Olympics will bring the bounce back and lift growth in the second half of the year by 0.5%-0.7%.
But advocates for these short breaks point out that the work life balance does boost productivity. Jill Miller of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) told AOL Money: "Studies have shown that often people don't take all of their annual leave entitlement, and with technology the temptation is to continue working from home after-hours. With less bank holidays, employee well-being needs to remain a core priority for employers."
Consumer surveys have also shown that leisure site visits on days off contribute £90bn worth to British economy, and the average spend is £25.09 per person per visit. The UK also has far fewer holidays than its European counterparts - Portugal has dropped to 10 from 14, while France has 11 and Germany 13 national holidays.
Alex Keddie, director at Davidson Asset Management, who specialises in employee benefits, says: "Britain has fewer bank holidays than Europe, and the benefit of employees re-charging their batteries should be welcomed, leading to greater productivity from the employees. Scandinavian countries seem to utilise flexible working/life balance and it doesn't appear adversely affect their economies".
Though the Royal Wedding last April cost the UK roughly £1.2bn in lost production, special one-off occasions have little impact according to economists, and in the case of the Jubilee, patriotism will overwhelm pragmatism. A CBI spokesperson said: "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee is an extraordinarily special occasion for the country and a time for national celebration. It's entirely appropriate to have an extra bank holiday and businesses recognise this, and have been factoring it into their planning for some time."
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