Paid Bank Holidays: What is an employer’s responsibility?


Last month, Labour announced that they would introduce 4 new bank holidays if they were elected in June.

The move would bring the UK in line with other G20 countries who they claim have an average of 12 bank holidays a year compared to 8 in England.

As we approach the Spring Bank Holiday, the expert employment solicitors at LawforEmployers take a look at what your legal responsibilities are concerning bank holidays.

Bank holidays with religious significance and the rights of part time workers can complicate policies on bank holidays.

If you have a specific question on bank holidays, our dedicated solicitors are available to offer the advice you need on 01282 695 400.

Do you need to give staff time off for bank holidays?

There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. The right to take time off will depend on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.

When an employee does work on a bank holiday, they have no statutory right to extra pay such as double pay or time and a half. An employee will only have a right to extra pay if it is specified in the contract of employment.

Part-time workers cannot be treated less favourably

If you emyploy part-time workers, it is important to note that they have a right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker. This will include entitlement to bank holidays.

The safest option would usually be to proportionally calculate the allowance of paid bank holidays, regardless of whether they would normally work on the days the bank holidays fall.

Can an employee refuse to work bank holidays?

As long as it is specified in their employment contract, an employee cannot refuse to work bank holidays.

This evens extends to refusing to work for religious reasons. However, as an employer, you should be aware that refusing to grant employees of one religion time off for bank holidays of religious significance could be deemed as discrimination if it places them at a disadvantage compared to employees of a different faith.

Contracts must be worded correctly

It is also important to consider the wording of your contracts in relation to bank holidays. Some contracts will specify that annual leave is inclusive of paid bank holidays.

If your contracts contain a phrase such as “statutory entitlement plus bank holidays”, this will grant employees 28 days holiday and a further 8 bank holidays.

It is important the wording of your contracts are clear to avoid any disputes with your employees. If you’d like more information, find out how our specialist solicitors can help draft your contracts of employment.

Contact the specialist solicitors at LawforEmployers

If you would like more advice on ensuring your employment contracts, you can arrange a free consultation with a dedicated solicitor by calling 01282 695 400.

Or, you can get in touch with us online by competing our online contact form.