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Work-Life Balance: Ask your MP for a new Bank Holiday Campaign

15 March 2005 - 8:10am

People in Britain work longer hours and get fewer public holidays than most countries in the European Union. Help to change this by writing to your MP to support a campaign for more UK bank holidays. More details here...

Labour MP for Watford Claire Ward will, on Friday 18 March, present a 10-minute rule Bill to grant a new bank holiday. She is urging the government to support the Bill to introduce a public holiday on the third Monday in October in recognition to the work that is done by all those who work in public service, and to provide a much needed additional day of rest for UK workers. [Read Claire Wards full proposal]This Bill will be put to the vote on Friday 18 March. Support this Bill by contacting your MP and tell them your concerns over the lack of UK Bank holidays, using

Why do we need another bank holiday? People in Britain work longer hours and get fewer public holidays than most countries in the European Union. When it comes to bank holidays, only the Netherlands gives its workers as few public holidays as the UK, but Dutch workers benefit from more annual leave. With 11.35 days the average across the 25 European states, Slovakia with 18 has the most, closely followed by Cyprus on 14. Malta, Spain and Portugal grant their workers 14 days each year.

The TUC believes the UK is ready for a new bank holiday. By looking at the performance of the UK economy from the two years from autumn 1997 - it grew by six per cent in real terms and 833,000 additional jobs were created - the UK can afford the introduction of new bank holidays. The proposed date would be a good start, coming in the middle of the longest period between existing holidays - 16 weeks between summer and Christmas. In fact, this was the most popular date in a workSMART online poll of nearly 20,000 people in 2004.

What is a 10 minute rule Bill? 10 minute rule Bills are a way in which back bench MPs (private Members) can introduce legislation. There are only 10 minutes of parliamentary time available for them to be debated and voted on, so in practice they only rarely make it onto the statute books. The process is used more as a means of making a point on the need to change the law on a particular subject, and themes from Bills which look as though they may prove popular can often resurface later in Government legislation. The ten minute rule allows a brief introductory speech and one opposing the motion to be made in the House after Question Time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the House is likely to be full.

What can I do? As your MP is likely to be in the House when the Bill is read on Friday 18th, they will get a vote on it. Make sure your MP reflects your wishes by asking them to support Claire Ward's 10 minute rule Bill on bank holidays on 18 March, and help grant us a well deserved extra bank holiday.

You can do this in only 5 minutes online. The new campaigning website, lets you find your MP's contact details and send a message direct to their fax machine for free.

Please write in your own words, even if you only send a short message, and only contact you own MP, so they can see you are a local voter. This will carry far more weight with them!

If you get a response from your MP (positive or not), please let the TUC know by emailing


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