This article makes UK employers aware of UK Bank Holiday Entitlement of full time and part time employees.
The New Year, Holy Week (Good Friday and Easter), May Day (May 1), Spring Bank Holiday which falls on the last Monday of May, Late Summer, Christmas (December 15) and the following day which is Boxing Day (December 26) – These are the eight permanent bank holidays in the UK. Employers must be clear on employment laws that concern these eight days.
Employees have no right to take to take time off from work during bank holidays. When employees come in to work on bank holidays, they do not have the right to receive more than what they would normally get on that day. Any right to take time off or to receive extra pay really depends on what is stipulated in their employment contracts.
Part-time employees should be treated as full-time employees who are comparable to them. With regard to entitlement to bank holidays, the best approach to part-timers would be to give them pro rated allowances during paid bank holidays. This should be done regardless of whether they really have a work schedule during bank holiday or not. This should be practiced in consideration of the Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551) which protects part-times from less favourable treatment from employers. Under this regulation, part-time employees are supposed to have the same benefits on a pro rata basis as comparable full-time employees.
Employers must make sure that part-timers receive their pro rated pay if bank holidays are part of their statutory minimum holiday benefits. Aside from this, part-timers should also receive their pro rated pay if the employer gives full-timers extra pay that is over the statutory minimum holiday benefit.
In order to avoid being accused of unfair treatment between part-time and full-time employees, the employer should check how many bank holidays the part-timer will benefit from compared to how many days he or she works in a week. If the entitlement to bank holidays of the part-timer falls short, it is only proper that she should be given an extra holiday that may be taken at another time.
Employees who are supposed to work during bank holidays due to the stipulations in their employment contracts cannot refuse to go to work on any of the eight bank holidays even if it is for religious purposes. However, employers should know that refusing Christians to take time off during Holy Week and Christmas may indirectly be considered as religious discrimination. Employers and Christians may see this as a disadvantage as opposed to other employees with other religious beliefs and employees who do not practice any religion.
If there is a “plus bank holidays” clause in the employment contracts of employees, this means that the employees have a total of 28 days leave – 20 days normal leave plus 8 bank holidays. However, due to the increase in statutory leave from 4 weeks to 5.6 weeks, this means that employees should now have a total of 36 days leave – 28 days normal leave plus 8 bank holidays. It would be wise for employers to check their employee’s contracts to know if this would be a problem or not.
Prior to the increase in the number of holidays from 20 to 28 days sans bank holidays, many employers have stipulated that employees have “statutory entitlement plus bank holidays”. With this stipulation employees should be granted a total of 28 days leave plus 8 bank holidays for a total of 36 days. Checking employment contacts is important to determine what rights the employees have in order to defray any potential issues.