We seem to be enjoying a run of bank holidays with a further two bank holidays in May following the Easter Break. For many people these represent a pleasant day off but not all employees are entitled to time off on bank holidays.
This guide explores the importance of having a correctly worded employment contract in place to ensure that your business remains compliant in the allocation and management of bank holidays.
1. Can employees be required to work on bank holidays? There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. Any right to time off, payment for time off or extra pay for bank holidays worked depends on the terms agreed in their contract of employment.
2. What are employee’s rights in the absence of a contract of employment? Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, you are legally required to give new employees a written statement of terms and conditions of employment which includes terms relating to bank holidays. In the absence of a contract of employment, the statutory rights relating to time off for bank holidays will depend either on what was verbally agreed or on custom and practice.
3. Can bank holidays be included in an employee’s statutory leave entitlement? Yes. Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave (pro-rated for part time employees), which may include bank and public holidays.
4. Are part-time employees entitled to bank holidays? Under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 a part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker and this includes entitlement to bank holidays.
5. Can employees be required to take annual leave on bank holidays? Yes, employees can be required to take annual leave on bank holidays where their contract of employment provides for this.
6. How should an employer deal with an employee who calls in sick on a bank holiday? Devising and communicating clear rules on how you will address this issue will assist in deterring employees from taking time off for sickness when they are not really ill.
7. If an employee’s contract states that his or her holiday entitlement is a certain number of days “plus eight bank holidays” is he or she entitled to an extra bank holiday that is granted one year?
No. Where a contract stipulates that an employee’s entitlement is limited to the normal eight bank holidays in England and Wales, there is no automatic entitlement to an extra bank holiday that is granted one year. However, if the contract does not specify the number of bank holidays (for example; ‘plus bank holidays’), they would be entitled to the extra day.
Research has shown that the UK enjoys fewer public holidays than any other G20 nation with Argentina and India topping the table with 18 and 17 bank holiday days respectively. Whilst the debate about the number of bank holidays in England continues, a correctly worded employment contract is essential to ensure that your business remains legally compliant in both the allocation and management of bank holidays.