St Andrew's Day Bill - Q&A

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Q: Did this Bill in itself create a new national public holiday in Scotland? Did it give any new holiday rights to workers or schools in Scotland?

No.

Q: So what effect does it have?

In legal terms it allows banks in Scotland, if they wish, to close on the day specified in the Bill. In symbolic terms it signals greater celebration and awareness of St Andrew's Day and provides the option to combine that with a holiday on a specified date.

Q: Is the Scottish Government recommending that employers grant a day off for St Andrew's Day?

It is not for government to prescribe leave arrangements. We hope that employers and employees will consider together how to respond to the signal this legislation sends of greater celebration of St Andrew's Day. But the decision on whether to have a holiday is entirely up to them.

Q: What do the Scottish Government's own staff do on the specified day?

The Scottish Government decided to grant a holiday to its own staff, hoping to encourage other employers to consider following their lead by example.

Q: Are banks closed on St Andrew's Day?

This is a matter for them.  But from Easter 1996 onwards the Scottish Clearing Banks decided to harmonise the days on which Scottish banks closed with those in England and Wales. The banks took the decision to harmonise with England and Wales for business reasons.

Q: If workers currently have bank holidays off, why can't they also have this new bank holiday as leave?

Entitlement to leave is regulated by the employment contract. Any change to this entitlement, to allow an extra day's leave on account of an additional bank holiday would be a matter for negotiation between employer and employee. Most employees in Scotland do not have all bank holidays off.

Q: Can local authorities allocate an existing local holiday to November 30 to mark St Andrew's day if they so choose?

Yes. Local authorities determine 'local' holidays after consultation with local business interests - and could do so by switching an existing holiday to 30 November. This is not, however, underpinned by statutory authority.

Q: Doesn't the legislation create pressure on employers to grant a holiday?

Employers are not required by the legislation to give employees a holiday on the St Andrew's Day bank holiday. Even if they did so, they could remove another day's leave in lieu, as the Scottish Parliament did for its own staff.

Further information

If you require any further information, the Act is available on http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2007/2/contents  or you can read a brief summary

If your enquiry is about the rights and pay of employees, please contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) on 08457 474747 or your legal adviser.