The last summer bank holiday is rapidly approaching on 27th August and then its all downhill until the big man in the red suit visits! 😉
For England and Wales, there are 8 permanently recognised bank holidays each year; New Years’ Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have a few nuances in their own public holidays).
Not every employer may realise but there is no statutory right for employees to take a bank holiday off work. Right for any time off is dependent wholly on the specific wording in the contractual terms entered into between employer and employee.
Check your contracts carefully: It used to be common for wording of ‘statutory entitlement plus bank holidays’ to be used BUT this no longer means 20 days’ annual leave plus 8 bank holidays. The statutory minimum annual leave entitlement increased in 2009 from 4 to 5.6 weeks. So, if you still have this wording in your contract it effectively means you are giving your employees 28 days annual leave PLUS 8 bank holidays on top.
This could be costly to your business as it would mean that your employees were contractually entitled to more or less bank holidays depending where bank holidays fall within the year and an employers’ own holiday year scheme.
If an employee works on a bank holiday, there is no statutory entitlement to receive additional pay over and above their normal hourly rate; i.e. enhanced pay at double time. Again, any entitlement to pay when working bank holidays depends on the employment contract.
Be careful not to treat any part time employees less favourably than their full time equivalents. The safest course of action is to pro-rata their paid bank holiday entitlement – this is regardless of whether their ‘normal’ working day is on a day when a bank holiday falls.
Finally if it is contractual for an employee to work on bank holidays then they cannot refuse to work even for religious reasons. However be mindful that any refusal to grant Christian employees time off for any of the UK bank holidays with religious meaning could be deemed indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a disadvantage when compared to employees of other faiths or those who are non religious.
If you find that the wording in your contracts and/handbook is outdated, don’t panic. A revision to the terms is all that is required and PeakHR can help.
Get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange to meet with you to review and take the headache out of updating your documents.
Please note our blog posts contain general information and are intended as guidance only and should not be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. Please ensure that you obtain advice tailored to your individual situation before taking action. These posts apply to the UK only.