The Alternative Bank Holiday: 9 national events you could turn into time off

Thursday, 10 Dec 2020




As much as we love our jobs, most of us look forward to taking time off – and Bank Holidays feel even sweeter, as friends, family and workmates are off too. It’s nice enjoying time to yourself, knowing colleagues won’t be loading your inbox with tasks ahead of your return.

Some employers go above and beyond standard Bank Holiday entitlements, offering employees ‘bonus days off’ – for Christmas shopping, for example. This is a cost-effective way to show your appreciation for staff, and create an additional perk of the job.

If you fancy upping the feel-good factor in 2021 and adding further company days off to the calendar, here are 9 ideas for an alternative Bank Holiday.

National Walk your Dog Month
  1. National Walk Your Dog Month
    When: January 2021

    A full month is a little generous, but giving the animal lovers in your company a bonus day off to spend time with their beloved pet will certainly boost the company mood.

    And if team members don’t have an animal at home, you can always encourage them to get involved with a scheme like Borrow My Doggy. Or they can just enjoy an extra day off to watch the Beethoven films at home with a bucket of popcorn.

Big Energy Saving Week, 18-24 January 2021
  1. Big Energy Saving Week
    When: 18-24 January 2021

    Sustainability and environmental output are no longer an afterthought for businesses; to reflect your values and attract employees, they must be fully integrated into your company culture. This is why Big Energy Saving Week is a great hook for an alternative Bank Holiday.

    While the event is mainly aimed at helping households to switch to lower energy tariffs and reduce consumption, it’s the perfect excuse to let employees turn off their computers for a day. They can even use the time to search out more competitive utilities deals at home.

Shrove Tueday, Pancake Day 2021
  1. Shrove Tuesday
    When: 16 February 2021

    Many companies take part in ‘pancake day’ as a team building event at work – why not go one further and turn it into a day off?

    A bonus day’s holiday in the lead up to Easter will make staff feel flipping brilliant; especially in sectors like retail, which are traditionally very busy at this time of year.

International Womens Day, 8th March 2021
  1. International Women’s Day
    When: 8 March 2021

    While it’s easy to turn novelty events into a fun day off, bonus annual leave can also convey a serious message about your commitment to cultural values.

    For example, women’s progression in the workplace is a major issue. The UK gender pay gap is still 15.5% for full-time employees, and although more women are working than ever before, their career progression is often impacted by domestic and childcare commitments.

    Giving staff of both sexes time off for International Women’s Day shows your appreciation for female workers. You can also turn it into a wider awareness campaign around women’s rights issues.

World Blood Donor Day 2021
  1. World Blood Donor Day
    When: 14 June 2021

    Around 830,000 people give blood in the UK each year, but there’s always a need for more. The NHS Blood and Transplant Service is particularly keen for more men to donate, as well as black, Asian and minority ethnic donors.

    While many people would be happy to donate blood, they struggle to attend a local session, as appointments outside standard office hours are limited. Giving staff the day off to give blood takes away the time constraints, makes them feel good, and helps to save a life.

British Food Fortnight 2021
  1. British Food Fortnight
    When: 18 September – 3 October 2021

    We all love a nice meal out, but 2020 has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry. Your company can help to boost the restaurant economy in 2021 by giving staff the day off during British Food Fortnight – the only rule is they need to treat themselves to a nice, long lunch!

    You can even take this one step further by giving each team member a voucher for a local restaurant, as a token of appreciation for their hard work.

World Smile Day, October 2021
  1. World Smile Day
    When: 1 October 2021

    Random acts of kindness are guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces, so it seems appropriate to turn World Smile Day into an alternative Bank Holiday for your employees.

    You could announce this bonus holiday at the start of the year, or reveal it as an impromptu gesture, to give people a last-minute day at their leisure.

National Stress Awareness Day
  1. National Stress Awareness Day
    When: 3 November 2021

    Although employers would like to believe your team are well looked after, the unfortunate truth is that workplace stress is still prevalent. In 2019/20 alone, 828,000 UK workers admitted to suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to government data, resulting in 17.9 million lost working days.

    While there are plenty of cultural initiatives you can introduce to the workplace to reduce people’s stress levels, sometimes there’s no substitute for some quiet relaxation. Giving staff extra time off to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day shows you care about their mental health and wellbeing, and that you want them to prioritise their personal needs.

Winter Solstice December 2021
  1. Winter Solstice
    When: 21 December 2021

    The darkest, shortest day of the year can leave even the most upbeat person feeling glum, so why not write it off and let people stay at home? Your team will be given a huge morale boost by being told to curl up under a blanket with some hot chocolate and a movie before the chaos of Christmas begins.

    It will be a particularly welcome gesture to working parents, as most kids will have broken up for Christmas by that point in December – so it’s one less day of childcare to arrange when annual leave entitlements are often running low.

Find the tools to manage leave effectively

There’s no obligation to give your workforce extra days off, but introducing an alternative Bank Holiday can be a huge appreciation gesture – and it helps you stand out as a good employer.

Whenever you choose to give time off, it’s important that staff holiday is managed effectively, to ensure that absences don’t impact productivity. The most successful companies use online leave management software to coordinate employee movements; whether it’s a company-wide Bank Holiday, or individual annual leave.

Get in touch to take your holiday calendar online in 2021 with WhosOff. You can start a free trial to explore how our software works, with no obligation.


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Photos by Lum3m, Sheena Wood, Olya Kobruseva and Blu Byrd of Pexels.com, Jude Beck, Stefano Pollio and Philip Mackie of Unsplash.com


By Phil Cross

Title: The Alternative Bank Holiday: 9 national events you could turn into time off
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