Bank Holiday Working

Last month we did a guide to warm weather working. Additionally, this summer has seen two major sporting events which can lead to higher levels of leave, and, some employers have an increased amount of Bank Holidays in this holiday year. With that in mind and a Bank Holiday looming on the horizon, we thought it would be a good time to advise on common issues that crop up.

Extra Pay for Bank Holiday Working?

Firstly, there is no statutory right to extra pay for Bank Holiday workers. Many employees believe they are entitled to time and a half or double pay but this is only the case if it is in the terms of their contract. If it is not a contractual term then the employer is only entitled to normal pay.

However, if it is not a contractual term but employers have paid enhanced bank holiday pay in the past then this verbal agreement may have become a contractual entitlement and should be followed. Failure to pay this enhanced rate could then be seen as a breach of contract.

Similarly, there is no statutory right to time off on Bank Holidays. Employees can therefore be required to work Bank Holidays unless their contract states otherwise. So long as the employee is allowed 5.6 weeks of annual leave it does not matter if they have to work Bank Holidays.

If a contract does state that employees have to work on a Bank Holiday then the employee cannot refuse, even for religious reasons. Case law states employees are not guaranteed time off for religious holidays. However failure to grant Christian employees time off for Bank holidays with religious importance can amount to indirect discrimination when compared to members of other faiths.

Finally, part time workers should not be treated any less favourably when it comes to allocating time off for Bank Holidays. We always advise clients to give them a pro-rata allowance of paid Bank Holidays, regardless of whether or not they work on the day which the Bank Holiday falls. That way they cannot be less favourably treated in comparison to full time employees.