What exactly is a bank holiday? Do employers have to let workers have bank holidays off with full paid leave? When is a bank holiday not a bank holiday?

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With the new year almost upon us, it's time to start thinking about all that wonderful time off we can spend with family and friends next year.

Here is our guide to all the bank holidays for 2018 and some of the interesting facts behind them.

How many bank holidays are there in England over the festive period?

Three - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

What exactly is a bank holiday?

It’s a public holiday in the UK when banks and many other businesses are closed. If it falls at a weekend, the following Monday usually becomes a bank holiday.

When were they first introduced?

The Bank Holidays Act 1871 designated four holidays in England, Wales and Ireland (then wholly part of the UK), and five in Scotland. It was superseded 100 years later by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act.

When is a bank holiday not a bank holiday?

Officially, Christmas Day and Good Friday are not bank holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, though they are widely regarded as such. They are actually public holidays under common law (as traditional days of rest) and it was deemed unnecessary to include them as bank holidays.

Do employers have to let workers have bank holidays off with full paid leave?

No – bosses can actually choose to include them as part of statutory annual leave, though in reality it is usually an extra day off for most workers.

Why does Scotland have two bank holidays at New Year?

The Scottish New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrations are known as Hogmanay and often last into January 2, so the first two days of the year are public holidays.

When are all the bank/public holidays in 2018?

There will be eight in England and they are: Monday 1 January (New Year’s Day); 30 March (Good Friday); 2 April (Easter Monday); Monday 7 May (Early May bank holiday); Monday 28 May (Spring bank holiday); Monday 27 August (Summer bank holiday); Tuesday 25 December (Christmas Day); and Wednesday 26 December (Boxing Day).

Will we get an extra bank holiday in 2018 for the royal wedding?

Sadly, probably not. The Queen can appoint special days as bank holidays in any year and in the past several royal weddings have been accompanied by one. However, it’s unlikely there will be an extra bank holiday for the marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday 19 May.