In November 2021, the Government announced that the UK would enjoy an additional bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The additional bank holiday would take place on Friday June 3, 2022, and – as the late May Bank Holiday has been moved to Thursday June 2, many in the UK will enjoy a four-day weekend.
On April 26, the BBC reported that the CBI, UK Hospitality and a variety of well-known brands are calling for the additional bank holiday to be made permanent. In similar vein, in the run up to the 2019 General Election, the Labour Party announced that if elected, they would introduce a further four bank holidays a year – St David’s Day on March 1, St Patrick’s Day on March 17 , St George’s Day on April 23 and St Andrew’s Day on November 30.
Employers and employees alike may wonder whether all employees are entitled to any additional bank holidays – whether permanent or one off. The answer: not necessarily.
The law on annual leave is contained in the Working Time Regulations 1998. Regulations 13 and 13A of the WTR provide that workers (a wider category of people than employees) are entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave each year. For people that work five days a week, this means that they are entitled to 28 days of annual leave each year.
The law does not entitle employees or workers to take leave on bank holidays in addition to their WTR entitlement. Consequently, the question of whether an individual is entitled to leave from work on a bank holiday depends upon what their contract says.
Many contracts of employment provide that individuals are entitled to 20 days of holiday plus bank holidays. In these circumstances, the individuals will be entitled to benefit from any additional bank holiday that the Government announce. If the contract of employment has any further description around bank holidays, then this will affect individuals’ entitlements. So – if the contract says the holiday entitlement is ‘20 days plus the usual eight bank holidays’ individuals working under that contract will not be entitled to the additional bank holiday. Similarly, if the contract does not mention bank holidays (ie, providing for 28 days of holiday a year) then individuals working under that contract will not be entitled to the additional bank holiday.
Prudent employers will often draft their contracts of employment in such a way that bank holidays are not part of the contractual entitlement of employees or workers. There are good reasons for doing so:
- It avoids problems when employers have people that work part time and avoids the need for cumbersome pro-rata exercise.
- It keeps the decision about bank holidays in the hands of the employer. The only way that individuals working under such a contract of employment will be entitled to additional bank holidays is if the government specifically legislates to this effect.
Of course, any employer that has a contract of employment that does not allow employees the benefit of additional bank holidays would be wise to consider the position carefully before making any decisions. They should balance the cost of allowing an additional bank holiday against the damage to goodwill amongst members of staff in refusing it.
This writer, in particular, would have felt unhappy to have to work on Friday June 3.
For further advice following this article, contact Woodfines Solicitors on 0344 967 2505.