Does your employer have to pay you more on a bank holiday?

PUBLISHED: 09:37 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:37 04 May 2018

Many of us will be out enjoying the good weather this May Bank Holiday weekend - but does your employer have to give you the day off? 

Picture: James Bass

Many of us will be out enjoying the good weather this May Bank Holiday weekend - but does your employer have to give you the day off? Picture: James Bass

This year marks 40 years since the introduction of the Early May Bank Holiday, now a firm fixture in the nation’s calendars.

But while your diary states that it’s a public holiday, are you actually entitled to have the day off work, or to earn more if you do come in?

Regional law firm Howes Percival is using the anniversary to remind employers of the law surrounding bank holidays:

– By law, employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ annual leave – this equates to 28 days per year for employees working a five day week.

– The 28 days can include bank holidays, of which there are usually eight a year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Early May Bank Holiday, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

– There is no statutory entitlement to be paid extra for working on a bank holiday, although some employers do opt to pay more. It will come down to what rights are included in the contract of employment in terms of bank holidays.

– From an employee’s point of view, the law may dictate that they have a right to be paid for working on bank holidays if the employer traditionally does so, if nothing to the contrary is specified in their contract.

– If bank holidays are included in an employee’s statutory minimum holiday entitlement, there is no need for leave to be taken on bank holidays – but employers should be careful not to discriminate against employees who may wish to celebrate certain days of religious significance which are not listed as bank holidays in the UK calendar.

– If a workplace is closed on a bank holiday, an employer can insist that the day is taken as part of their employees’ entitlement to annual leave.

– For part-time employees, statutory annual leave entitlement is dependent on the amount of time they work – but they do have the right to be treated equally to a full-time employee, which includes entitlement to bank holidays.

Howes Percival partner and employment law expert, Paula Bailey, said: “Time off or additional pay for working bank holidays is a contractual matter between businesses and their employees. So, employers need to ensure their terms of employment specify whether a day off must be taken on a bank holiday and clarify payment for working such a day, for example, normal pay rate, time-and-a-half or double time.

“Most bank holidays fall on a Monday so, to help ensure they meet their obligation to treat part-time workers no less favourably than full-time employees, employers need to look at how many bank holidays a part-time employee will benefit from in light of the days of the week they work and make sure they receive their full pro-rata entitlement.”

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