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11th May 2015

Are bank holidays part of an employees holiday entitlement?

We seem to have had an abundance of bank holidays over the last month or two and now another bank holiday Monday is only 3 weeks away. Bank holidays in our sector seem to cause a lot of uncertainty as employers are not always clear whether their staff are entitled to these.

The questions we receive from our clients are normally around entitlement and if employees should receive bank holidays. That is coupled with the question as to whether employees should receive additional pay for working a bank holiday. All cause managers some difficulty.

Contract of employment

I would always advise to start with the employees contract of employment. Under s.1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers must give new employees a written statement of terms and conditions of employment within 2 months of them joining the company. The terms relating to individual holiday entitlement, including bank holidays, and holiday pay should be included in this document. This should also stipulate, if individuals are required to work bank holidays as part of their normal working pattern, the payment they will receive i.e their normal salary or any enhanced payments.

Points to consider for your employees

Here are some points to consider for your employees when approaching bank holidays

  • People believe an old myth that you don’t have to work bank holidays, this is incorrect. The law states that there is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. Bank holidays are classed as normal working days.
  • There's no statutory right for extra payment for working on a bank holiday, but there may be circumstances when an employee may be paid extra according to the terms of their contract of employment
  • You may want to make it a condition of the offer of employment that annual leave will not be allowed to be taken on a bank holiday. This way employees know from day 1 that holidays at that time will not be allowed.
  • Don’t forget your part time employees - they are entitled to be treated the same as a full time employee and shouldn’t be treated less favourable as they work part time but for a part time employee their entitlement should be pro rata
  • Are you abiding by the Working Time Regulation by giving your staff 5.6 weeks holiday entitlement? There is no requirement to offer employees bank holidays as long as they receive 5.6 weeks per year.

The service industry is renowned for working bank holidays, weekends and various shift patterns. So new employees into the industry may find it a challenge to understand the requirement for individuals to work bank holidays. If you have a new employee who comes to you demanding to have a bank holiday off or to receive double pay to come into work, then you should be in a good position to advise them appropriately. You’ll see from this information that the contract of employment is a crucial document and certainly the first point to check with particular care.

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor

Topics: Human Resources

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