Newly revealed data shows how the UK lags behind much of the developed world when it comes to paid public holidays, as Britain prepares for a special celebration to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The statistics reveal a contrasting picture across the continent – with some workers able to put their feet up for as many as 16 times a year, while in some countries workers only enjoy eight paid days off.
The number of public holidays enjoyed by each EU nation varies greatly, with England and Wales falling behind their European counterparts with just nine public holidays in 2022.
Spain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland are next with 10, along with Denmark, Scotland and Northern Ireland who have 11 this year.
Meanwhile, Sweden will enjoy the most public holidays among the EU nations in 2022, with employees able to enjoy 16 paid days off.
It comes as calls for a new permanent bank holiday in the UK have gathered pace and Rishi Sunak is understood to have requested formal advice from the Treasury on the costs of another annual day off.
Business leaders and MPs are said to be discussing the possibility of a ‘Thank Holiday’ – both celebrating Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne and the dedication of millions of workers who battled on throughout the pandemic.
But Downing Street today appeared to pour cold water on the prospect of any long-term changes, after the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said a bank holiday was estimated to cost the economy £2bn.
The number of public holidays enjoyed by each EU nation varies greatly, with England and Wales falling behind their European counterparts with just nine public holidays in 2022
Seven countries (Austria, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Finland) trail Sweden’s high of 16 public holidays this year and have 15 of their own.
On the other end of the scale, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain enjoy the fewest within the bloc with 10 days off this year.
The EU average of public holidays sits at 12.8 days, while the USA normally has 13.
China will see 18 days of public holidays this year, while Japan will enjoy 19 paid days off.
Globally, the country with the most public holidays is Myanmar, whose workers will this year will see 30 days as paid holidays – or a whole calendar month.
Meanwhile, Switzerland’s employees will only be able to count upon five official public holidays this year – with the rest being individually determined by the country’s 25 cantons.
Supporters of the campaign to extend the June bank holiday– including Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, pictured
Both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are said to be ‘supportive’ of a new campaign to enshrine 2022’s Platinum Jubilee as a permanent bank holiday in honour of the Queen
The news comes as bosses representing British firms have today written to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak urging them keep the extra day off in the diary.
The Chancellor is said to be ‘supportive’ of a blossoming campaign to enshrine 2022’s Platinum Jubilee as a permanent bank holiday in honour of the Queen, reports the Telegraph.
‘The Treasury is not saying ‘no’ off the bat, despite previously being institutionally allergic to the idea of a new bank holiday.
‘Rishi is supportive of the campaign and the thought behind it and has asked for all the projected costs’, a Treasury source told the newspaper.
Experts claim the Government currently overstates the cost of public holidays and that a new one would help to boost health and productivity.
Whitehall insiders have estimated that each bank holiday costs the public purse £1.4billion.
But research by accountancy giant PwC suggests the figure is overestimated and a Monday off would cost £877million and a Friday £786million.
The end-of-May bank holiday is being pushed back to Thursday June 2 to extend the weekend of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Now businesses are calling for this year’s extended June bank holiday to be given a permanent spot on the calendar from next year – dubbed a ‘Thank Holiday’.
People took to social media to share their excitement at the potential addition of another bank holiday for future calendars
Supporters of the campaign – including Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, Britain’s biggest business group the Confederation of British Industry and trade body UK Hospitality – say it would be ‘a fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s 70 years of public service’ and would also help out firms which rely on tourists and shoppers.
Those backing Mrs Meaden include Britain’s biggest business group the Confederation of British Industry, bars and restaurants trade body UK Hospitality, and brands such as Siemens and Punch Pubs.
Their calls are also supported by Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the Scouts, TUC, Royal Voluntary Service and more.
Mrs Meaden said: ‘The Great British bank holiday is enjoyed by one and all across society. We all have fond memories of trips away, gatherings with friends, or just enjoying some relaxing time with loved ones.
‘But it’s also a major boon for many businesses – especially those sectors that have struggled during the pandemic. I’m backing the campaign because I think it will be a fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s seventy years of public service, and that of all the people who make our communities kinder, nicer places to live.’
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: ‘It is time for a Thank Holiday to mark the astonishing and enduring service of Her Majesty the Queen.
‘Such a day would also provide the chance to recognise the fortitude of the entire nation, and local community heroes, in pulling through the challenges of the past two years.’
Britons are already set for an extra day off on June 3 to mark the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee but the spokesman stressed that was a ‘unique national celebration’ that was important to mark.
‘I’m not aware of any plans to make it permanent,’ the spokesman said. ‘But obviously we keep the cost of these things under review.’
The spokesman said each bank holiday ‘presents a considerable and significant cost to our economy and therefore each proposal would have to be considered carefully on that basis’.
In 2012, there was a bank holiday for the Queen’s diamond jubilee, which the government estimated would cost the UK £1.2billion.
The nation also enjoyed an extra day off a year earlier when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed at Westminster Abbey.