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FAQs – Bank Holidays

Most of us have been fortunate enough to enjoy the recent spate of bank holidays away from work, having time to spend with friends and family and enjoy the added bonus of some decent weather over the Easter break.  However, not everyone is lucky enough to have the time off and the issue of staff having to work on bank holidays always raises lots of questions.  We thought we would take the opportunity to share the most frequently asked questions and answers with you, as we have more bank holidays coming up during the summer.

Who is entitled to receive payment for bank holidays?

Most employees who work a normal 5-day week (i.e. Monday to Friday or some other variant) are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of holiday which is equal to 28 days in the working year which is inclusive of the public and bank holidays.

Part-time workers on fixed hours and days per week are given paid annual leave but on a pro-rata basis, their annual leave is based on the number of days or hours which are worked in a normal week. For example, if an employee works a four-day week they would be entitled to 22.4 days (4 days x 5.6), where the number is not a whole number you can round up to the nearest half day if this makes it easier for admin purposes.  It’s not a legal requirement but you must never round down.  This ensures that part-timers receive a pro-rated amount for the bank holidays.

Are Agency Staff entitled to bank holidays?

After 12 weeks in the job, agency staff will be entitled to paid bank holidays, having equal rights to employees and workers.

How is payment for bank holidays calculated?

Holiday pay should be calculated on an average of all earnings, including contractual or regular overtime, bonus and commission.

What happens if a bank holiday falls on a normal working day and we are closed?

This will be a paid annual leave day.

What happens if a bank holiday falls on a normal working day and we are open?

If the employee’s normal working day falls on a public/bank holiday but the business is open then they have a right to request this day as annual leave, in the usual way.

What do I pay an employee whose working day does not fall on a bank holiday?

If the employee is shift based, variable hours or zero hours and their working day does not fall on a public/bank holiday then they are not entitled to be paid annual leave for the day.

Must I allow my staff to take the day off on a bank holiday?

There is no statutory right for employees to take time off on bank holidays.

If staff work on a bank holiday do I have to pay double time?

There is no statutory right to extra pay, such as “time and a half” or “double pay.”  However, please check your employment contracts, as individual terms may include an uplift of the employees’ statutory rights.

Can an employee refuse to work on a bank holiday for religious reasons?

If an employee is required to work on bank holidays under the terms of their employment contract, the employee cannot refuse to work, even for religious reasons. However, employers should be aware that refusal to agree a holiday request for any holidays with religious significance could amount to indirect religious discrimination.  However, indirect discrimination is not necessarily unlawful.

If I need staff to work on a bank holiday can I stop them from taking the time off?

Restrictions on taking holidays may be expressly stated in the contract of employment, implied from custom and practice or incorporated into individual contracts from a collective agreement between the employer and trade union(s).

What happens if we are closed but an employee insists on working?

Employers may choose to shut down for certain periods during which all or some groups of employees have to use their annual holiday entitlement; nominate particular dates as days of closure, when workers are expected to take annual leave (for example, over the Christmas and New Year period).  These details should be outlined in the contract of employment or Annual Leave Policy.

Does Annual Leave accrue when an employee is on Long Term Sickness Absence?

In short, yes. The statutory minimum entitlement to paid holiday will continue to accrue during periods of absence, including bank holidays.

What happens if an employee claims they were sick on a bank holiday?

Employees who are sick on a bank holiday have the right to request to take that annual leave at another time when they are well. Our advice is to ask to see a Fit Note and treat this absence in line with your Company’s Sickness Absence Policy.

How do I manage leave for an employee on maternity leave?

An employee on maternity leave will still accrue bank holidays during their maternity leave and will be entitled to take the leave when they return to work. Maternity pay and annual leave cannot be paid at the same time so the maternity pay will have to end and the annual leave starts.

For any specific guidance we would urge you to contact one of our HR Consultants to discuss further.

Our HR Consultants can be contacted through our Contact Us page if you have any questions.

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