You do not have to give staff paid time off for bank and public holidays. However, you should set out in a worker's contract of employment:
- any right to time off on bank and public holidays
- whether or not that time off is paid
- what you will pay them if they work one of these days, ie whether you will pay the normal rate of pay or an enhanced rate, eg 'time-and-a-half' or 'double time'
Note that if you allow a worker time off for bank and public holidays over a significant period of time, it may become an implied term of their contract via custom and practice, ie the term is not actually in the contract document but is still part of the contract of employment.
Part-time staff have the same entitlement to leave as full-time workers. Therefore, if full-time staff are given paid leave for bank and public holidays, part-time workers should also receive this benefit on a pro-rata basis.
This can be a problem if most of the bank and public holidays fall on days when a part-time worker doesn't normally work.
A best practice example is as follows:
An employer has both part-time and full-time staff. In a particular year there are ten bank/public holidays. The full-time staff work a five-day week, Monday to Friday. There are also part-time staff working a two-day week, some on Monday and Tuesday, some on Wednesday and Thursday, and some working varying days.
The employer allows all workers the day off in respect of all bank/public holidays falling on a day they would ordinarily have worked. Furthermore, for those part-time staff working Wednesday and Thursday (or varying days) who would never (or rarely) work on the day a bank/public holiday fall, the employer allows them a pro rata entitlement of days off in lieu based on the number of days they work, by way of best practice. They therefore receive two-fifths of the ten-day entitlement.
This approach ensures that all workers enjoy a share of the benefit received by full-time staff.
Read more on employing part-time workers.
Bank and public holiday dates
When the Christmas and New Year public holidays fall at a weekend, other weekdays are declared public holidays. These are usually the following Monday and, if necessary, the Tuesday.
If a worker normally works weekends, and Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day fall on a weekend, entitlement to time off depends on their employment contract. This may be something that is explicitly agreed in the terms of the contract or could have been incorporated through custom and practice.
However, entitlement will not depend on the contract if you are operating on the statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks.
Special bank holidays
Dates of bank holidays can be changed or extra holidays declared, for example to celebrate special occasions.
For example, there was an extra bank holiday on 5 June 2012 to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
A worker's minimum paid annual leave entitlement is 5.6 weeks. There is no statutory time off for bank holidays and public holidays. However, you may choose to include these as part of that worker's entitlement.
Where a worker's contract states they are entitled to the statutory minimum annual leave, an extra bank holiday would not increase their paid holiday entitlement.
However, if a worker had a contract that entitles them to 20 days' annual leave plus all bank and public holidays, they may be entitled to the additional bank holiday as annual leave.