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  • Workers in England and Wales get four fewer public holidays than the EU average 

  • The TUC is calling for the creation of four more bank holidays 

As workers enjoy the last long weekend of summer, the TUC is today (Monday) calling on the government to create four new public holidays, including at least one between August and Christmas.  

Workers in England and Wales get just eight bank holidays a year, fewer than any other EU country and lagging far behind the EU average of 12 days.   

Workers in Germany and France get three additional public holidays a year, while workers in Sweden get 13 days – equivalent to an extra week off.  Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Cyprus top the table with 15 days each, enjoying nearly twice as many public holidays as their British counterparts.  

The TUC believes that all UK workers should get 12 days of public holiday and supports a national conversation about which dates would be most appropriate.  

The TUC has long made the case for an additional day to break up the four-month gap between the August bank holiday and Christmas day. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

“As new technology changes our economy, the benefits should be shared by working people. That means less time at work, more time with family and friends, and decent pay for everyone. 

“But instead work is becoming more intense. Workers in Britain put in millions of hours of unpaid overtime every year but get fewer public holidays than their counterparts across Europe.  

“Working people deserve a break. And as the days start to get shorter we could all do with something to look forward to. The government should create a new public holiday between now and Christmas.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

  • The TUC is also calling on government to strengthen public holiday rights. People who work bank holidays should have the right to premium pay or time off in lieu. And government should amend the working time rules to ensure that any new public holidays deliver extra time off rather than coming out of existing statutory leave entitlements. 

EU public holiday entitlements 

Country 

Days 

Country 

Days 

Country 

Days 

Austria 

13 

Germany 

11 

Netherlands 

10 

Belgium  

10 

Greece 

11 

Poland  

13 

Bulgaria 

Hungary 

11 

Portugal 

13 

Cyprus  

15 

Ireland  

Romania 

10 

Czech Rep.  

13 

Italy  

12 

Slovakia  

15 

Denmark 

11 

Latvia 

11 

Slovenia 

15 

Estonia 

10 

Lithuania  

13 

Spain  

12 

Finland  

15 

Luxembourg  

12 

Sweden 

13 

France 

11 

Malta 

14 

UK 

Average  

11.9 

Sources: European Trade Union Confederations, EU Member State Governments. Note - unweighted average based on 2019 allowances. Holidays that do not apply to whole member state territories are excluded. For example, the UK entitlement has been counted as 8 days. Scotland gets 9 days and Northern Ireland 10.  

  • TUC analysis published earlier this year found that British full-time workers put in the longest hours in the EU: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/british-workers-putting-longest-hours-eu-tuc-analysis-finds 

  • Congress 2019 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 8 September to Wednesday 11 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/applying-media-or-external-visitor-credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Tuesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £75 +VAT.  

  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.