Bad Bank Holidays

I gave a talk on this at PrimeConf in June 2014, which you can watch online.

Update 21st January 2014

I have received confirmation from the Scottish Government (via the Privy Council, the Crown Office, and the Edinburgh Gazette) that no Royal Proclamation was made, and so 4th January 2010 and 2011 were not bank holidays. Which I find quite amusing :)


When reading’s page on bank holidays, I noticed a mistake – the page said that in Scotland both New Year holidays were shifted by a day, whereas what actually happened was the 2nd January 2012 was its own bank holiday, and the New Year’s Day bank holiday was moved to 3rd January. I submitted a pull request (isn’t this new way of working with government fun?), which was quickly accepted.

The basis for my belief comes from, as I understand it, Schedule 1 of the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 which states:

The following are to be bank holidays in Scotland:

  • New Year’s Day, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 3rd January.
  • 2nd January, if it be not a Sunday or, if it be a Sunday, 3rd January.
  • [...]

New Year’s Day was a Sunday in 2012, so it moved to 3rd January. 2nd January was a Monday, it was a bank holiday. All perfectly clear. But what about 2011?

Fixing Bank Holidays

Bank holidays not listed in the above Act can (by section 1) be added by Royal Proclamation, and bank holidays can be moved also, if Her Majesty considers it expedient. This is done when a bank holiday is going to take place on a Saturday, to move it to the more normal Monday, or to e.g. add New Year’s Day in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (where it is not listed by statute for some reason), or to provide an extra bank holiday for Prince William’s wedding or the Diamond Jubilee.

So let me take you back to 2004. The Royal Proclamation made for Scotland in that year clearly states that Tuesday 4th January 2005 is replacing Saturday 1st January 2005 as a bank holiday. Fine. But move forward to the same scenario in 2010. There were two Royal Proclamations in that year – Number 1 and Number 2 – and they don’t mention January 2011 at all.

So, unless I’ve missed something (which is of course possible – get in touch if so!), it appears that in 2011 the New Year’s Day holiday took place on Saturday 1st January by default, Monday 3rd January was the 2nd January holiday moved automatically by statute, and 4th January, which everyone in Scotland took to be a bank holiday, umm, wasn’t?


2010 had the same issue – the New Year’s Day holiday was fine on the 1st, but the “2nd January” holiday should have been moved to the 4th, as everyone says that was a bank holiday (directgov, But the Royal Proclamation for Scotland made in 2009 again doesn’t mention January 2010 at all. Going all the way back to 1999 (the last time the weekdays matched up with 2010), we find that the Royal Proclamation back then does clearly move the holiday from the 2nd January to the 4th.

So in 2010, everyone had a bank holiday on Saturday 2nd January, but everyone thought it was on Monday 4th. I’m not sure what the implications of this, if I’m right, are – any law or agreement that counts days not including weekends or bank holidays will have been a day out in Scotland. Does that matter?

Obviously if there has been some change since 2004 that means the Proclamations do not have to state movement of these bank holidays, please could you let me know what it is. Otherwise, who do I ask/tell that I think Her Majesty may have, umm, made a mistake?