The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has renewed its call for the government to introduce three extra public holidays to bring the UK into line with the average across the EU
It wants today – the autumn half-term Monday – to be one of the new days.
Brendon Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “If this Monday were a bank holiday millions of hard working families would be able to spend a day with their children during half term without taking extra leave.
“Millions of employees could give our leisure and retail industries a boost or take a long weekend away and help our tourism sector. Others could simply be enjoying a well-earned extra lie-in and a very happy Monday.”
A poll carried out for the TUC earlier this year found predictably widespread support for extra holidays, with four out of ten favouring one on a Monday in late October.
Workers in England, Wales and Scotland have eight public holidays a year (10 in Northern Ireland), compared with an average of more than 11 across Europe.
The TUC claims that extra holidays would have "no impact" on the economy and that the retail and tourism industries would receive a boost.
"In the past, bosses have wildly exaggerated the costs of introducing more bank holidays, but our calculations suggest that the UK can well afford to bring in extra days," Brendan Barber said.
It also argues that more holidays would reduce in work-related stress, which costs the UK £4.4bn a year. But as a spokesman for the CBI said: "We all like the idea of more time off but there is no such thing as a free lunch."