Bank holiday weekends are an ever common thing during the spring and summer portion of the UK national holiday calendar. Naturally no one wants four days off in a row to get absolutely smashed in the middle of winter, apart from that Christmas stretch. So as we enter into the British bank holiday season I question if they are equal and actually necessary.
Although since I have only ever worked in the hospitality industry since I was sixteen I have never really seen the joy in them. ‘I’ve got four days off to get rat-arsed,’ customers tell me as they order a pint at ten thirty on a Saturday morning. ‘Haven’t got to worry about work at all.’ They proceed to tell me while I am stood their at work silently judging theirs and mine life decisions. If I worked in Card Factory I’d be in the pub too I think.
I think the thing I really do not like about Bank Holidays is that everything boils down to a 50/50 chance. Some shops are open while others are closed. Tesco will not be supplying you a pint of milk or that loaf you forgot to buy on Thursday but Tesco Express is open from 7am-11pm as though it is a normal day.
Working in pubs during a Bank Holiday fills you with the same feelings as working through most holidays, especially Christmas and Valentine’s Day, mainly ‘I could be doing so much if I wasn’t here’. Occasionally customers will remind you of this as though it were possible you had some how forgotten the outside world, you have to smile and walk away without screaming at them like a toddler who has been told he will not be getting that toy he wanted.
Naturally the only solution I can think of to even the playing field is that on Bank Holiday Weekends everything closes. EVERYTHING. Train stations, airports, pubs, shops, the whole lot. In France this is very common – try going to a small town on Bastille Day and you will be greeted by a sheer volume of nothingness apart from drunk towns people.
Originally the first Bank Holidays, named in the Bank Holidays Act 1971, were four days through the year and were mainly aimed at bank workers. However there is no legal obligation for time off during these days and most contracts will specify if you get extra pay for working them (not legally enforced I might add). At my place of work we do not close for any day of the year, we are still pouring pints on Christmas Day while our families are opening presents, there should be a balance. Everyone should have these days off.
Or at the very least places that are open throughout Bank Holidays should be allowed and encouraged to close during the quiet periods, just after New Year or just after a Bank Holiday. Remember as well that reminding the person serving you that they are at work while you are not is not going to help their situation. So these are not Bank Holidays to people in the service/hospitality industry, they are W*nk Holidays.
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