Bank Holidays… what you need to know

Date: Wednesday, 17th April, 2019

With Easter fast approaching, we wanted to reiterate as an employer what you really should know about UK bank holidays.  There are 8 in total, New Years Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

1. Do I have to give employees time off work for bank holidays?

There is no statutory legal right to holiday on bank holidays, you, the employer decide whether your employees can have the time off – not the law. Therefore it is important to state your policy clearly in your employee’s contract of employment.

2. Do I have to pay employees extra?

There’s no statutory law saying you must pay a higher wage to employees working on a bank holiday, for example “time and a half or double pay”. Any right to extra pay is your decision – always make sure it is included in your contracts of employment.

3. I want to give employees time off – do I give them extra holidays?

You must be extremely careful with the holiday wording in your employee contracts. If you state that employees are allowed the statutory entitlement plus bank holidays (this means 28 days plus bank holidays equating too 36 days off ).

If your entitlement is 28 days inclusive of bank holidays this means your employees must use eight days of their annual leave allowance to take the time off for bank holidays.

Finally, if your holiday leave year runs April to March, your employees may get more bank holidays in one year than another, depending on when Easter falls. So you must make sure your employees don’t miss out on their holiday entitlement in a year with fewer bank holidays.

4. Is bank holiday leave for part-time employees the same?

Part-time employees have the same entitlement to bank holiday leave as full-time employees (who work in an equivalent role). 

The best practice approach would be to give your part-time employees a pro-rata allowance of bank holidays, irrespective of whether they normally work on the days when a bank holiday falls.

5. Can an employee refuse to work a bank holiday on religious grounds?

An employee can’t refuse to work on bank holidays even for religious reasons, however, employers should be aware that a refusal to allow Christian 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 you would like more HR advice and guidance, then please do get in touch.

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