Do I have to pay staff for bank holidays?

We have several permanent bank holidays in the UK which are New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Many businesses may choose to close on bank holidays. But if you do remain open, are you required to pay your staff for working on these days?

Statutory Rights for bank holiday leave

Your employees have no statutory right to take bank holidays off from work. This remains the case even if staff request bank holiday absence due to religious grounds. However, if bank holidays have a religious significance for your employee and you refuse to allow them time off, you are at risk of being accused of indirect religious discrimination so this is worth taking note of. It would be highly advisable to ensure that your intentions for staff working on bank holidays is made clear in your employment contracts.

It is common for employers to pay staff a higher wage for working on bank holidays to compensate for the anti-social hours worked. This is often ‘time and a half’ or ‘double pay’. Again, there is no legal requirement for employers to offer this. Any additional payment is entirely optional and should again be stated clearly in the employment contract.

Leave Entitlement

Full-time employees in the UK are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday each year. It is at the discretion of the employer to decide whether the 8 bank holidays in the year are included within these 28 days of paid holiday. They may decide they are going to be additional paid holiday days. Alternatively, they could be given as unpaid leave if the business is closed on these dates.

If you have part-time employees they should be treated no less favourably than full-time employees when it comes to annual leave and bank holidays.  If your employee usually works on a Monday and you close the business, the employee will have to take that day as paid holiday from their allowance. This may mean that employees who work a Monday have less choice as to when they take their leave than those who don’t. It is up to you if you would like to negotiate and be flexible. You may allow them to swap some of the days and take the bank holidays as unpaid leave for example.

Ensure you have a policy

In conclusion, the way that you choose to manage bank holidays within your business is very much a personal choice. It is vital that the decisions you make are clearly outlined within your contracts of employment and staff are aware of their entitlements.

Getting support

If you are unsure about annual leave for your employers and would like some support ensuring that your annual leave policies are up to date and legally correct, get in touch and speak to one of our professional HR advisors to see how Altum HR can help you and take the stress out of your HR requirements.

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