Public holidays in the Scottish Government: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/01468
Date received: 24 May 2018
Date responded: 21 June 2018

Information requested

  • How many public holiday days are given each year? Please indicate which dates they are and the reason they are a public holiday.

  • Why do Scottish Government employees have extra public holidays, other than bank holidays? For example, May 25, 2018 has been given as a public holiday as well as the bank holiday of May 28, 2018.

  • Why do Scottish Government employees take off bank holidays which are only valid in England and Wales? For example, employees had Easter Monday off even though this is not a Scottish bank holiday.

  • How would the Scottish Government define the difference between a public holiday and a bank holiday?

You asked for information relating to the years 2015 to 2018.


The Scottish Government normally observes 11.5 days public and privilege holidays per year as detailed below:

Public Holiday Privilege Holiday
Good Friday The Queen's Official Birthday
Easter Monday Friday (pm) preceding the Autumn Holiday Monday
May Day Holiday St Andrew's Day
Spring Holiday Monday Boxing Day
Autumn Holiday Monday
Christmas Day
New Year's Day
The day after New Year's Day

The Scottish Government leave year runs from 1 February to 31 January; the specific dates observed during the 2015-16, 2016-17. 2017-18 and 2018-19 leave years are detailed at Annex A. These dates are those observed in Edinburgh, there can be local variations for staff based in other areas.

Bank holidays are determined by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 and the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007. As the dates for bank holidays are set out in statute or are the subject of proclamation, it follows that they are the same across the whole of Scotland. On the other hand, public holidays (also referred to as local holidays) in Scotland are determined by local authorities, based on local tradition (not statutory authority) and after consultation with local business interests. The term 'bank' holiday is used interchangeably with 'public' holiday and for all practical purposes there is no real difference. In the civil service reference to 'privilege' holiday is one of long standing tradition.

The Scottish Government has devolved responsibility to determine the terms and conditions of staff (similar to all other civil service employers in the UK). However, paragraph 9.2.4 of the Civil Service Management Code gives direction in relation to the Queen's Official Birthday. Prior to this devolved responsibility, the terms and conditions of civil servants, including holidays, were set at a UK level many years ago.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI-18-01468 - information released (tabulated).pdf


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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