DIY Bank Holiday entitlements

2016-08-23 chris posted:

Most of the UK has eight bank holidays per year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. However Scotland and Northern Ireland have omissions and additions compared with England and Wales.

But how much do you as an employer know about employment law concerning bank holidays? Here are some things you really should know:

  • There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work.

Any right to time off, payment for time off or extra pay for bank holidays worked depends on the terms of the employee's contract of employment. Therefore, subject to the terms of the contract, employees can be required to work on bank holidays.

Under s1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers must give new employees a written statement of terms or contract of employment. The statement/contract must contain terms relating to holiday entitlement, including bank holidays, and holiday pay. In the absence of a written statement/contract, the rights relating to time off for bank holidays will depend either on what has been verbally agreed or on custom and practice.

  • When an employee works a bank holiday, there is no statutory right to extra pay– for example “time and a half” or double pay.

Any right to extra pay depends on the terms of the employee’s contract of employment. To avoid any problems, it is advisable for employers to stipulate the rate of pay for working on a bank holiday. There is no right for employees to be paid a higher rate than normal for working on a bank holiday, unless this is provided for in the contract.

  • A part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

The employer must ensure that a part-time employee receives his or her pro-rated entitlement if bank holidays are included in the employee's statutory minimum holiday entitlement, or if the employer grants an entitlement that exceeds the statutory minimum to its full-time workers.

The best and safest approach to part-time employees is to follow the best practice approach recommended in government guidance to give part-time employees a pro-rated allowance of paid bank holidays, irrespective of whether or not they normally work on the days on which bank holidays fall.

  • If an employee is required to work on bank holidays under the terms of their employment contract, the employee cannot refuse to work, even for religious reasons.

Employers should be aware of their obligations under the Equality Act 2010, which protects workers against direct and indirect discrimination because of any religion, religious belief or philosophical belief. For example, a refusal to grant Christian employees time off for any of the bank holidays with religious significance could amount to indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a particular disadvantage when compared with employees of other faiths, or non-religious employees.

Indirect discrimination can be justified, and is therefore not unlawful, where employers can show that their decision to refuse the time off is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Employers should therefore ensure that they have a compelling business reason for refusing any request for leave for religious observance. Acas guidance states that employers should be sympathetic to such requests where it is reasonable and practical for the employees to be away from work, and they have sufficient holiday entitlement in hand.

For more guidance, advice or assistance with your holiday related queries, just give us a call, no obligation.

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