When is a working day not a working day?

If you made an FOI request over the Christmas period, be aware of a strange anomaly regarding time for compliance

Everyone knows that the time for compliance by a public authority with a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) is twenty working days. Section 10 of FOIA says

a public authority must comply with [a request for information made under] section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt

A “working day” means (by s10(6))

any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 in any part of the United Kingdom. [emphasis added]

This means that, even when a request is made in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, to a English, Welsh or Northern Irish public authority, under FOIA (which in relevant part only applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – Scotland has its own Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002), the existence of a Scottish bank holiday during the relevant period effectively extends the time for compliance by one day.

The 2nd of January is a bank holiday in Scotland.

So, think twice before you chase a public authority this month about a request you think is one day overdue.


Filed under Freedom of Information, Uncategorized

9 responses to “When is a working day not a working day?

  1. Yes, but Scottish bank holidays are not necessarily bank holidays. I lived there for several years and never worked it out. Lots of people work on bank holidays, especially if they work in banks (because the English branches are open). And some local authorities have their own local holiday that nobody else has. Yes St Andrew’s day is not a public holiday in Scotland. What better excuse for a day off work could there be?

  2. FYI WhatDoTheyKnow should calculate this correctly.

  3. Martin

    I’m FOI lead for a County Council – we’ve been including Scottish (and Irish, where they apply in Northern Ireland) bank holidays when calculating deadlines since the Act came into force – hardly a ‘new’ discovery!

    • Hi Martin – thanks for your comment. I didn’t claim it was a “new discovery”, but it is one that not everyone is aware of. Well done to your Council for being aware from the start, but feedback tells me that this certainly doesn’t apply to all public authorities.

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