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What is the legal position on bank holidays?

03 October 2018

People are often surprised at the actual law regarding bank holidays in the UK.

Here are some interesting things to note in this area.

  • The UK normally has 8 bank holidays per year: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
  • There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. The right to take time off on these days depends on the contract of employment and/or staff handbook. It is therefore important to ensure contracts and handbooks are drafted carefully to ensure the position on bank holidays is clear.
  • If an employee is asked to work on a bank holiday, the employee cannot usually refuse to work. However, if there is a religious reason involved, careful consideration should be given and should be approached with causation. If an employer refuses time off, this could potentially amount to indirect discrimination if it places the employee at a particular disadvantage when compared to employees of other faiths or no faiths.
  • If an employee works on a bank holiday, there is no statutory right to additional pay on top of their normal pay. However, this right can be established under the contract of employment or staff handbook.

Please contact Hina Belitz on to find out more.

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