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Quote 1091

"It is illegal in Britain, and in the rest of the European Union, for an employee voluntarily to forgo a day of his holiday entitlement in return for an extra day’s pay. This prohibition is justified on the fashionable pretext of ‘protecting the vulnerable’; it prevents employers from coercing employees into working when they would prefer to use their holiday entitlement. Yet, to avoid the small risk of such a breach of contract, for which remedies already exist, this prohibition forces employees who might prefer an extra day’s pay to take a holiday instead. It imposes the preferences of legislators (who certainly seem to enjoy their holidays) on the entire population, including those who do not share them. Knowing nothing of your circumstances or tastes, they still believe they know how many days’ holiday you should take. And not only that. They also know how you should while away your leisure time (not in a private cigar bar, for example), how you should earn a living (not by selling sex to willing buyers, for example) and all manner of other things that you might think individuals were better able to decide for themselves. The cost of this oppression falls not only on those whose preferred choices are outlawed, but also often on the wider population. The War on Drugs provides the most obvious example. The abstemious also pay for our governments’ attempts to ensure that all intoxication is caused by alcohol. Their taxes fund the enforcement and healthcare costs (illegally produced drugs are more dangerous), and they suffer from the violence produced by criminals battling for control of local black markets. Then, after all this, prohibitions often fail to achieve their goals. Ecstasy pills are so readily available in London that their price has fallen to £3 or less."

   --  IEA

What is a Holiday?


A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done 

Wider definition

  • A day off work as part of an allowance
  • A national holiday in which people are not required to work


  • Holy days (religious days)
  • National days
  • Commemorative days
  • Paid leave above minimum holidays required by law.
  • Unpaid leave

Other attributes

Why is not OK to work 23:59 on a public holiday, but OK to work 2 minutes later at 00:01 the next day?

What’s wrong with making people take holidays?

It is illegal for an employee voluntarily to forgo a day of his holiday entitlement in return for an extra day’s pay. Does the compulsion of law really need to be used for this purpose?
Legislators knowing nothing of your circumstances or tastes - how do they know how many holidays you want?
Do part timers need holidays? They don't work a full week as it is?
Whats wrong with people deciding for themselves when the best time to take a holiday is?
Not everyone gets a paid holiday, think of bar workers and restaurants, these people get excess demand on a single day and have to work harder. Smoothing demand would be better for the poorest workers and businesses. 
Think of all those offices and factories closed on the public holidays, what a waste of resources and productivity. 
Another downside is everyone travels at once, causing congestion and overcrowding at popular destination ruining the experience.

Arguments against removing forced holidays

  1. Holidays protect the vulnerable 
    Holidays hurt the vulnerable, those who are only just making ends meet, may wish to sacrifice a holiday for more pay, cannot do so.
  2. We all need a common time off for family gatherings, such as Sundays
    This can be agreed on the employment contract if it is important to the employee. No need for the law to determine these days.

Removing forced holidays can have positive externalities

  • The economy would be larger
  • There would be less wastage


Holidays are a result of a productive society, not a government edict, this is why most firms offer more holidays than the statutory minimum. As the private sector raise these over time, the government sets the minimum a little below the norm.


Source of income and jobs

Forcing holidays is futile

  • People can incorporate into companies as part owner where they are not a normal employee subject to normal rules.
  • In an international marketplace companies like to set up operations where the workforce are efficient. Having extra holidays needs to be backed up by being more productive than your international counterparts. Otherwise jobs will be moved where holidays are not an issue.
  • Students who work, will just study in the holidays and work during the other days to keep up their minimum income, they will be no better off, just the activity during the week will be re-arranged to suit the law.
  • In a bid to increase attendance for military days, holidays that fall on a weekend may be 'Mondayised'. However, there is a tenancy to treat the the extra day off as a 3 day weekend, and not honour the meaning of the day.

Collateral damage

  • People can often work harder before and after holidays, making them more exhausted.
  • It keeps poor people poor by reducing their productive capacity
  • Environmentally it is not good practice to have infrastructure not being used for periods.
  • It has a double cost for firms with extra admin to comply with law, but less staff hours to do it in.

Forced holidays across borders

Different countries have different forced holidays. Which country gets it right?


    • Why are some days holidays and other not? who decides?



    The forced holidays are a result of a mindset of paternalism, which is knowing best what other people need more than they do.

    Since 1871, politicians have created bank holidays. The original idea was to give some rest to factory, office and shop workers by closing the banks for a day. Businesses worked on cash, so when banks were shut you couldn’t operate, and your employees could have a day at home.

    Employers attitudes to forced holidays

    Employers do not have a single personality. Some industries benefit from them and some do not. Sometimes tourist industries get a pass.
    Owner/employer companies might prefer it to catch up on administration or take a break. However if the company is given the choice they can make it for themselves.

    Workers attitudes to forced holidays

    Workers are often not made aware of the full costs of forced holidays. So generally for it. Employers spread pay to be equal amounts over the year regardless of holidays. However an employer will be evaluating an employees worth to the company and pay accordingly. If it was put to an employee if they would rather have some time off or extra money, some would undoubtedly choose to work some of those days. If it was made clearer the cost of the days off attitudes may change.

    Consumers attitudes to forced holidays

    Again consumers are not one of one mind. Some find the holidays annoying but agree with it, others do not. Others have mixed feelings, not likening the reduced ability to shop but liking the roads are more empty.

    Producer determined holidays

    Some companies offer more holidays than the statutory minimum, or even the norm. They do this to entice workers with the work life balance.

    Producer determined holidays

    Some employees, are only willing to take positions that are part time, or have certain days off.


    • If people are made of their existing employment rights that they should not be forced to work days they don't have to, or how to ask what they want in their employment contract, why would forced holidays be necessary?


    • An alternative to forced national holidays, people could decide which days they take off that suits their religion or beliefs.

    What next

    • We will see a juxtaposition and blurring between what is work and what is not
    • We will see a juxtaposition and blurring between working more hours in a day invading private life and more compulsory holidays