Your bank holiday entitlements explained - Palmers Solicitors

Your bank holiday entitlements explained

Your bank holiday entitlements explained

As the first bank holidays of the year approach, with Easter almost upon us, now is a good time to review what holidays employees are entitled to.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 entitle all employees to 5.6 weeks of annual leave – that’s 28 days of paid holiday for staff working a 5 day week. However, there can be some confusion in terms of how this affects bank holidays.

Lara Murray an employment specialist at Palmers explains: “It is perfectly within the law to count bank holidays within an employee’s annual leave entitlement or to require them to work on these days – this includes any additional bank holidays that may be provided for Royal weddings etc.

“It is a good idea to discuss and clarify these details before employment commences and make sure that your employer clearly states the position in your contract of employment.

“If your contract requires you to work on a bank holiday, your employer should ensure that you still have the chance to take your 5.6 weeks elsewhere in the leave year.”

“There’s no statutory right for employees to have time off on bank holidays and although it is common for many workplaces to close for the period, some industries tend to remain open, such as:

  • Hospitality
  • Care
  • Retail

“For workers requesting time off for religious reasons coinciding with the bank holiday, employers should treat this in the same way as any other request for time off to worship.

“Although employees don’t have the automatic right to time off for religious festivals, they are protected from discrimination and harassment due to their religion or belief under the Equality Act 2010 – so your employer should consider and treat the request fairly.

“Although they are not required to oblige, they should have a legitimate business reason for the refusal.

“There’s no legal requirement to pay extra for working on a bank holiday either, but here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Any additional bank holiday pay entitlement is determined by the contract of employment
  • If the contract doesn’t specify, entitlement will depend on what’s been agreed at a later date or what the employer usually does in such circumstances
  • If employees have usually been paid extra in the past, this sets a precedent that entitles the worker to be paid in the same way

“Finally, if you are under a contractual obligation to work on bank holidays but you refuse, it can be treated as a conduct issue and action can be taken in accordance with your employer’s disciplinary procedure.” For advice regarding any employment concerns please contact us.