Opening on Bank Holidays - HR Advice

Opening on Bank Holidays is always a topic that provokes a lot of questions and confusion, so here FPM explains some of the key principles when it comes to public holidays and staff leave.

Almost all employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holidays, which is known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave. The Working Time Regulations 1998 sets out the law on annual leave, however it does not differentiate between bank holidays and regular working days. This means employers are not legally required to give staff members paid time off for bank holidays or to offer pay for working bank holidays. Employers typically choose to do this as their own discretion. 

Let’s take a look at common scenarios managers typically deal with when it comes to dealing with bank holidays. 

If I have to work a bank holiday, how does this affect my annual leave?

The first place to look is the contract of employment as this typically sets out the annual leave and bank holiday entitlement. If your employee has to work on the bank holiday, the holiday day should not be “lost” and should be offered on an alternative day, or simply added back into the employee’s holiday allowance for them to use as they wish.

Can the practice dictate when I take the leave day or legally cancel my leave?

Yes. It is the right of an employer to dictate when employees take their holidays. A full-time employee has a right to a minimum of 28 days annual leave (which includes bank holidays), and can request holidays on certain days/times, but the employer does not need to agree.

An employer must provide notice when they are cancelling an employee’s annual leave and the notice period should be the same length as the period of leave booked. For example if an employee books 1 week of leave then you should give 5 days’ notice. 

If you wanted an employee to take the leave on a different, specific day, then an employer must provide two days’ notice for every day of leave. So to rearrange the one days leave, the employee must receive two days’ notice. If the practice was dictating a week’s leave, the employee would require at least two weeks’ notice.

My contract says I don’t have to work Bank Holidays?

This isn’t likely - it is important for Practice Managers to be aware of what is written in employee’s contracts, however. Each contract is different and is likely to state something different in regards to bank holidays. Most contracts will state the working hours/days for the employee and that bank holidays are recognised by the practice and form part of the holiday allowance.

Many contracts state a clause that allows for some flexibility in regard to working hours, which will most likely cover this situation. There are very few contracts that will specifically state that employees cannot work on bank holidays. Following what is written in contracts is important of course, for both the employee and the employer.

Am I entitled to extra pay for working on a bank holiday?

This is a common misconception - employees are not entitled to any extra pay on a bank holiday, but the Practice (as the employer) can choose to pay more should they wish to. Many practices choose to pay 'time and a half' or otherwise for those that work on a bank holiday.

If you have any unanswered questions around Bank Holidays, contact our specialist HR Advisor using the details in FPM Core under 'HR'.

Created by Ciara Burns
Ciara Burns
Ciara is the HR Consultant at FPM Group who writes and produces content on a wide range of topics such as HR best practices, employment law, recruitment, policies, and procedures.


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