Holiday entitlement – what about bank holidays?

With Easter coming up this weekend, most of us will enjoy a long weekend. We’re regularly asked about how bank holidays should be handled when calculating annual leave – especially when it comes to part-time workers who don’t work every day of the week. So, we hope this short article is helpful ahead of the Easter break.

All employees are entitled to a statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks’ annual leave. This equates to 28 days for a full-time employee working 5 days per week. There is no automatic right to a day’s paid holiday for any particular bank or public holiday unless the contract of employment provides for this.

An employer can fix some or all of the days on which employees take annual leave and can require employees to work on bank / public holidays. As long as an employee is permitted to take at least 5.6 weeks’ annual leave over the course of the year, the employer will have complied with the statutory requirements.

If the employer’s business closes on a particular bank / public holiday, then the part-time employee’s right to a day’s annual leave for this day depends on what days they work. If the employer’s business is closed on a day the employee normally works, then the employee will be paid for this as a day’s annual leave and the day will count towards the employee’s annual leave entitlement for the year.

If the employer’s business closes on a day that the employee does not normally work, then the employee is not affected. There is no entitlement to pay for the bank holiday but equally the employee does not have a day’s annual leave deducted from their holiday entitlement.

An example scenario might be helpful. Suppose two employees job share and each work 2.5 days’ per week. One employee works Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning and the other works Wednesday afternoon and all day on Thursday and Friday.

Assuming the statutory minimum 5.6 weeks’ annual leave, each employee has an annual leave entitlement of 14 days. If the leave year runs from 1st May to 30th April and the employer’s office closes for the May Day Bank Holiday, the employee who works the first half of the week will have the Monday off as a day’s paid holiday and work the Tuesday and Wednesday morning of that week as normal. This employee will be paid as normal for this week and their remaining annual leave entitlement will be 13 days. The employee who works the second half of the week is unaffected. (S)he will work and be paid for 2.5 days as normal and will still have 14 days’ annual leave to take in the year.

This issue can be complex but with some clear drafting of contractual clauses around annual leave entitlement, much of the confusion can be avoided.

Have a great Easter.


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