Bosses urged to go easy as Britain's workforce gets back to business

Bosses should take it easy on those running into work late this morning – it is not their fault, say scientists.

Taking a long bank holiday weekend off and staying up late to celebrate can interrupt people's body clocks – let alone when they've been given two bank holiday weekends running, according to chronobiologist Dr Victoria Revell from the University of Surrey.

"You would normally expect over a long weekend for sleep patterns to drift about half an hour later," she said. "It might take people a number of days to reset their internal clock after such an extended break."

And that's just for those who took off the bare minimum. Research by Lloyds Banking Group found that a third of employees had no plans to go into work at all last week.

Some 49 per cent of small and medium-size enterprises want to see the May Day holiday dropped permanently and replaced with a day off later in the year. They say the proximity of the holiday to Easter causes havoc at work. Research from the Confederation of British Industry estimates that each bank holiday costs the UK economy roughly £1.5bn.

And while Britain has one of the lowest numbers of bank holidays in Europe, usually eight a year, some people were looking forward to getting back to work yesterday. "I think some mums are breathing a sigh of relief that things can now get back to normal," said a spokeswoman for parenting website Mumsnet. But Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi has other ideas, and has put forward a private member's bill calling for an additional holiday in England and Wales each year.

"Leading up to bank holidays, I actually see people's productivity goes up as they know they have to meet their targets for April," said Mr Zahawi, who ran the online market research agency YouGov for 11 years.

"Nowadays, people can work remotely. We are a nation of retailers and an extra holiday would be a huge benefit to the tourism industry," he added.

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