May 1st wasn't a public holiday in the UK. It is a holiday this Monday (5th May) instead.
How did you spend this long weekend? Were you lucky enough to get away? Or like me, couldn't afford to?
A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom and also in the Republic of Ireland. Although there is no legal right to time off on these days, the majority of the population not employed in essential services (e.g. utilities, fire, ambulance, police, health-care workers) receive them as holidays; those employed in essential services usually receive extra pay for working on these days. Bank holidays are so called because they are days upon which banks are shut and therefore (traditionally) no other businesses could operate. Legislation allows certain payments to be deferred to the next working day.
Exactly a century after the 1871 Act, the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which currently regulates bank holidays in the UK, was passed. Also listed are New Year's Day and May Day, introduced since 1971. These are deemed bank holidays by the legal device of a royal proclamation every year. In January 2007, the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act was given royal assent, making 30 November (or the nearest Monday if a weekend) a bank holiday in Scotland.
Royal proclamation is also used to shift bank holidays that would otherwise fall on a weekend. In this way, public holidays are not 'lost' in years when they coincide with weekends. These deferred bank holiday days are termed a 'bank holiday in lieu' of the typical anniversary date. In the legislation they are known as 'substitute days'. The movement of the St Andrew's Day Scottish holiday to the nearest Monday when 30 November is a weekend day is statutory and does not require a proclamation.