Managing Bank Holidays and Annual Leave

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As we approach another bank holiday (next Monday) and peak holiday season, it’s important for you to look at annual leave entitlement and ensure that you understand the rules to avoid any risk of dispute. Here, the MIA’s trusted HR and employment law partner, Croner, provides clarity on the matter, explaining UK bank holiday entitlements for different contract types…

Generally speaking, there is no requirement for employers to offer paid leave for public holidays, yet there remains a lot of confusion around public holidays and pay.

Bank Holiday Entitlement for Full-time Workers

UK bank holiday entitlement for full-time members of staff is dependent on the type of contract. Legally, individuals have 28 days or 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year.

This entitlement does not have to include bank holidays, and paid leave for bank holidays is entirely at the discretion of the employer.

Bank Holiday Entitlement for Part-time Workers

Like full-time employees, part-time workers have no statutory right to bank holidays as paid leave. It’s important to ensure parity between the two.

What’s most important is that you treat full-time workers and part-time workers equally. So if you allow one to have paid leave, so should the other.

Pro Rata Bank Holiday Entitlement

In a similar vein, you should not treat pro rata employees any more or less favourably than part time, or full time, workers.

The challenge with pro-rata staff members comes when they’re working irregular hours.

There is no set formula for this, as long as you treat them equally and fairly, and have a policy set out in the employee contracts and handbook, you minimise any risk.

Bank Holiday Entitlement when off Sick

If a member of your team has bank holidays off as part of their entitled annual leave and is then sick on a public holiday, you should allow the employee to take the annual leave at a later time.

However, if the staff member has time off in addition to their entitled annual leave, and is then sick, what happens is dependent on the terms of their contract.

It isn’t unheard of for employees to feign illness when they are not entitled to paid leave. If you believe they’re lying about their illness, you need to conduct a formal investigation and follow disciplinary procedure if necessary.

Making false accusations, or outright refusing to pay the employee SSP (if they’re entitled to it) is likely to result in a constructive dismissal claim.

Bank Holiday Entitlement on Maternity Leave

The first and most important to thing you need to consider when assessing holiday entitlement for an employee on maternity leave is this:

Current UK law entitles any individual on maternity leave to all the terms and conditions she normally has during the period she is absent from work.

You need to return to the staff member’s contract for a conclusive answer. Are they normally entitled to paid public holidays?

If the answer is yes, then you should include those days in the employee’s entitlement.

If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t include those days as part of their annual leave. And they won’t accrue them during their time off on maternity leave.

Handling Annual Leave Requests

Provided an employer does not ultimately prevent an employee from taking their leave over the course of the year, it is for the employer to determine the rules regarding when leave can be taken.

Some employers will specify set periods of shut down where leave must be taken (i.e. Christmas), either in relation to all or part of their employee’s annual leave entitlement. Under the Working Time Regulations, this is perfectly permissible provided the employer gives twice the length of the leave period to be taken as notice to the employee.

Expert Advice

It’s important to consider holiday requests and pay queries on a case-by-case basis. Your dedicated member advice line can give you the right answers and reduce your risk by offering specialist advice.

As part of your membership with the MIA you can speak to a Croner expert for help with any of the above issues and get free in-depth, tailored advice. Email alice@mia.org.uk or call 01403 800500 for the exclusive Business Support Helpline scheme number.

www.croner.co.uk