Bank holidays… five things every employer should know!

At this time of year we embark upon a period when there are various Bank Holidays on the horizon. As an employer, are you fully aware about the employment law concerning them?

There are five things that every employer should know about:

  1. Taking the Bank Holidays off work totally depends on the employee’s contract of employment. There is no statutory right to take them – payment for time off and indeed the right to take them, or indeed the requirement to work them is subject to the contract.

  2. A part-time employee cannot be treated less favourably with regards to Bank Holidays! Best practice is to give them a pro-rated paid Bank Holiday allowance, regardless of which days they normally work and irrespective of whether they fall on a Bank Holiday or not.

  3. ‘Time and a half’ or double pay is not a statutory right – again this totally depends on the contract of employment.

  4. An employee cannot refuse to work a Bank Holiday (under the terms of their employment contract) even on the grounds of religion. That said, refusing to grant an employee with Christian beliefs the time off on any of the religiously significant Bank Holidays could surmount to indirect ‘religious discrimination’.

  5. If an employment contract states that employees are entitled to ‘statutory entitlement plus bank holidays’ this no longer denotes 20 days’ leave plus eight bank holidays. Back in 2009, following an increase in the statutory minimum leave to 5.6 weeks, this now equates to 28 days’ leave plus eight bank holidays. If the holiday year runs from April to March, depending on when Easter falls, an employee could receive as many as 10 bank holidays in one holiday year and as few as six bank holidays the following year.

About the author – Michael Doolin is one of our guest writers. He is a senior HR professional with vast experience gained from a varied and interesting career. He now runs Clover HR which is an HR Consultancy that provides advice to businesses and HR functions across the country. If you would like to see what support Michael and his team are able to offer you can check out their website here -

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