Employers and additional bank holidays


3 mins

Posted on 13 May 2011

After the Easter break and the Royal Wedding most people took a deep breath and returned to work on 3 May.   For some though, the extended holidays gave rise to friction and bad feeling. 

With an extra Bank Holiday scheduled for Tuesday 5 June 2012 to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and the late May bank holiday next year moving to Monday 4 June, many employers are asking if they have to give time off when the government declares additional holidays and, if so, do they have to pay their employees?

The Working Time Regulations entitle full time employees to 28 days holiday each year.  Although this is generally seen as 4 weeks (of 5 days) plus 8 bank holidays the Regulations do not give employees the statutory right to time off on bank holidays, but rather to time off as agreed with the employer.

This means that there is no one size fits all answer to the question of bank holiday entitlement.  Each case is governed by the contract of employment. 

For example if a contract states that the employee is entitled to 20 days annual leave plus statutory, bank and public holidays the employee should  have been paid time off on 29 April.  However if the contract states that the employee is entitled to take named bank holidays or “the usual” bank holidays the position is not so clear and may not give the employee the right  to an additional day’s paid leave.

Similarly, if the contract gives 28 days annual leave either as a total or including bank holidays the employee had no right to an additional paid holiday – 29 April and the additional holiday planned for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 come out of the overall entitlement.

The position for part time workers can also be tricky as holiday entitlement is usually pro-rated. There is no single way of looking at this.  An employee who works a 3 day week, entitled by contract to holiday in addition to public holidays, could have been entitled to 3/5 of a day for the Royal Wedding. In practice would the employer have required them to work a portion of the day? Likewise would they give employees who do not work on Fridays the same leave?

 The alternative view is that additional bank holidays apply only to those who work that day.  This means that those who do not work on Friday had no additional entitlement.

Not to be ignored is the impact on staff of any decisions taken.  Disaffected staff can cause often difficult HR issues!

Vanessa Potter, Associate

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