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Bank Holidays; What Employers Should Know

Bank Holidays; what employers should know

Most of the UK has eight permanent bank holidays per year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. However, Scotland has omissions and additions and Northern Ireland has two public holidays in addition to the bank holidays taken in England and Wales.

As we approach the late Summer August Bank Holiday, the following points may be of use to you as an employer.

  • There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. Any right to time off depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.
  • When an employee works on a bank holiday, there is no statutory right to extra pay – for example “time and a half” or double pay. Any right to extra pay depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.
  • A part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker. This includes entitlement to bank holidays. The best practice approach for part-time employees is to give them a pro-rated allowance of paid bank holidays, irrespective of whether they normally work on the days on which bank holidays fall.
  • If an employee is required to work on bank holidays under the terms of their employment contract, the employee cannot refuse to work, even for religious reasons. However, employers should be aware that a refusal to grant employees time off for any of the bank holidays with religious significance could amount to indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a particular disadvantage when compared with employees of other faiths, or non-religious employees.
  • If employers have worded their contracts to say that employees are entitled to “statutory entitlement plus bank holidays”, this no longer denotes 20 days’ leave plus eight bank holidays. Following the increase in statutory minimum leave from 4 weeks to 5.6 weeks, this wording grants 28 days’ holiday with eight bank holidays on top. It is advisable to check your employment contracts to determine if this is an issue for you.

This style of wording within the contract of employment can also mean employees receiving more bank holidays or fewer bank holidays than are required. This is an issue where the employer has a holiday year that runs from April to March and the timing of Easter weekend is such that the employee could receive as many as 10 bank holidays one holiday year or as few as six bank holidays the next year.

The next time this will be an issue for contracts that use such wording will be in 2024, when Good Friday is 29 March and Easter Monday is 1 April. This means that the 2023-24 holiday year would have nine bank holidays and the 2024-25 would only have seven.

A more immediate consideration is that the government has now confirmed that the May Day Bank Holiday in 2020 will be replaced by a public holiday on Friday 8th May to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

If you require any further advice with regards to bank holiday working or need to review the wording within your terms and conditions of employment to take account of the points raised here please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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