Despite the name “bank holiday” there is no statutory right for employees to take time off on bank holidays. Any time off will depend on what an employee’s contract of employment states and if they are required to work on bank holidays under their contract of employment they cannot refuse to work.
When preparing contracts, employers must be careful about blanket bans on taking time off work for bank holidays. For example some bank holidays have a particular religious significance for some employees (Christmas and Easter being the prime examples). This could give such employees a claim for indirect discrimination.
Payment when working on Bank Holidays
When an employee does work on a bank holiday they are not automatically entitled to any extra pay unless this is included under their contract of employment.
Part time workers should not be treated differently to their full time counterparts. If full time employees are given bank holidays off, then it is safest to give part time employees this time off as well, or alternatively give them a pro-rated allowance of paid bank holidays, unless of course they are specifically appointed to cover the bank holidays.
Under UK law, employees have a statutory entitlement to 28 days holiday per year. A trap we have seen employers fall into is to say “employees are entitled to the statutory minimum of holiday entitlement plus bank holidays” in employment contracts. If the contract is worded like this it will mean employees will be entitled to 36 days holiday (28 + 8).
If you have any old contracts worded in this way, please contact Backhouse Solicitors for advice on how to deal with this issue.