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People are often shocked at the legal position on bank holidays…

22 June 2018
Non-employment law specialists are often surprised at the actual law regarding bank holidays in the UK. Here are some important and interesting things to note on the law 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. Occasionally extra days are granted such as the Royal Wedding in 2011. People are often shocked that 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 employment contract (and/or staff handbook). This is one of the many reasons why it is important to carefully draft contracts of employment to make the position on this, as well as other issues, completely clear. If an employee is required to work on bank holidays then the employee usually cannot refuse to work, even for religious reasons. However, this should be approached with caution as a refusal to grant Christian employees time off for any of the bank holidays with religious significance (such as Christmas) could amount to indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a particular disadvantage when compared with employees of other or no faith. When an employee does work on a bank holiday, there is in fact no statutory right to additional pay, such as ‘double pay’ or ‘time and a half’. This is often very surprising to those unfamiliar with the law in this area. Again, the right to extra pay depends on the terms of the contract of employment, staff handbook or custom and practice of the organisation. You should carefully note that a part-time member of staff has the right not to be treated less favourably in comparison to a full-time staff-member. This would include entitlement to bank holidays. The usual approach is to give an allowance of paid bank holidays on a pro rata basis to part-time employees. Please contact Hina Belitz on hina@partnerslaw.co.uk / 02073746546 to find out more.

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