Spring into the Bank Holiday!

Spring into the Bank Holiday!

Spring has finally sprung, albeit no one appears to have told the weather man.  However, longer days and the prospect of a bank holiday just around the corner is enough to put a spring in our step.

So now is a good time to remind everyone of their entitlements in respect of bank holidays.

There are generally eight bank and public holidays each year in England and Wales.  The Working Time Regulations, which implement the European Directive in the UK provide that workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks (i.e. up to a maximum of 28 days for those who work full-time)  annual leave each year.  The Regulations do not differentiate between bank holidays and other holidays and don’t prevent employers from including them in the 5.6 week minimum annual leave entitlement.

That said some employers are more generous and provide for employees to have more annual leave than the minimum prescribed by the Regulations.  For example, they may provide for bank holidays to be ‘in addition’.  Careful consideration of the contract of employment is required.

There is no legal right not to work on a bank holiday.  In sectors such as retail bank holidays are often classed as a normal working day and the employee would need to book the day as leave in the normal way, to be allowed not to work.  In other sectors the office or business may be closed, and the employee may be required to be on leave on a bank holiday. Again, this may be determined by the contract of employment.

An employee is not entitled to be paid more if they work on a bank holiday nor be given a day in lieu unless the contract provides for this.

Because most bank holidays fall on a Monday or Friday, part time employees who do not work these days could be entitled to proportionally fewer days off compared to full time employees.  Employers must ensure that all employees have at least the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement and that part-time employees are not treated less favourably than full-time employees.  To avoid complaint, many employers, provide part time employees with pro-rated public holiday entitlement.

Look out for contracts that use the wording, “20 days holiday, plus bank holidays.” Where the holiday year runs from April to March and the timing of Easter weekend is such that the employee could receive as many as 10 public holidays in one year and as few as six in the next.   Employers need to be alive to the issue that in 2024, Good Friday is 29 March and Easter Monday is 1 April.  This means the 2023/24 holiday year would have ten public holidays and 2024/25 only seven. Employers need to ensure they are paying employees their full statutory and contractual statement to annual leave.

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