With many businesses shut, tens of thousands of employees furloughed, and millions of others working from home, plenty of people will be looking forward to the Easter bank holiday weekend this year.
When is Good Friday?
Good Friday will fall on 10 April 2020, and is always followed by Easter Monday, on 13 April. This is a bank holiday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but not in Scotland. Easter Sunday falls on 12 April this year.
For the rest of the UK, Good Friday and Easter Monday combined give most workers a four day long weekend.
Good Friday has been an official bank holiday since 1871, but was often informally observed as a public holiday before that date.
Will Good Friday still be a bank holiday this year?
With shortages of staff across many important sectors of the UK economy, there has been some speculation that Good Friday may not be observed as a bank holiday this year. But, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is in charge of the government’s policy on bank holidays, said Good Friday would be observed as usual.
A spokesman for BEIS said, “Conventional rules around bank holidays remain in place.
“If workers who would not usually have to work on bank holidays are required to, then employers must still ensure that they receive their statutory holiday entitlement for the year.”
Will I have to work on Good Friday?
Officially, people do not have a statutory right to time off on bank holidays, and many workers in the NHS and other sectors often have to work on them, due to staff shortages.
But most employers grant their employees time off on bank holidays, which then count towards their statutory holiday entitlement.
If they are asked to work on a bank holiday as part of their contract, employees are often paid more for doing so. During the current economic crisis, many employees may be asked to work on Good Friday this year.
But, according to UK law, if a worker who usually does not have to work on bank holidays is asked to, their employer must give them another day of holiday in lieu to make sure the worker gets their full statutory holiday entitlement.
Why do people celebrate Good Friday?
Good Friday is a Christian holiday that commemorates the belief in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, before his resurrection three days later.
Different sects of Christianity mark the occasion in different ways. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is traditionally observed by congregations who take part in the Three Hours’ Agony, or Three Hours’ Devotion - a solemn service that begins at noon and ends at 3pm, the time at which many Christians believe Jesus died.
In the Lutheran Church, Good Friday is the most important liturgical day of the year, and members of the church often fast and abstain from work in observance of it.
In Eastern Orthodox traditions, Good Friday falls on a different date, due to disagreements with the Roman Church over the exact date of Easter itself.
On Good Friday, Eastern Orthodox clerics wear black vestments instead of their traditionally highly embroidered ones, and all drapings in churches are changed to black.