This year has brought to the fore the challenges faced by businesses in managing Bank Holidays, with particular reference to the late May Bank Holiday - now moved to Thursday 2nd June, with an additional Bank Holiday added on Friday 3rd June as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
With this in mind, employers will need to be aware of the associated practical and legal implications.
Booking time off and notice
It’s likely that employers will receive additional requests for time off around the additional Bank Holiday, in that employees will be keen to enjoy a longer weekend. In order to manage this successfully, it’s worth having in place a clear and consistent holiday policy and request procedure, along with a plan to manage any resulting staffing issues.
The general notice period for taking leave is at least twice as long as the amount of leave an employee wishes to take, plus 1 day. For example, an employee would need to give 3 days’ notice for 1 day’s leave.
Employers are able to refuse a leave request, or can cancel employee leave, but they must give as much notice as the amount of leave requested, plus 1 day. For example, an employer would need to give 11 days’ notice if the employee has asked for 10 days’ leave.
However, if the employment contract specifies something different around required notice, both employee and employer will need to give notice according to what is in the contract.
When leave can and cannot be taken
Employers are also able to:
tell their workers and employees to take leave, for example on Bank Holidays or Christmas
restrict when leave can be taken, for example at certain busy periods
There may be rules around the above within the employment contract, or it may be custom and practice in the workplace.
In addition, if an employer wants an employee to take leave, they need to make sure that the worker can relax, rest and enjoy leisure during their holiday. For example, an employer cannot insist a sick employee takes leave.
In addition to the entitlement to four weeks’ annual leave, under the Working Time Directive (WTD), workers and employees have a right to an additional 1.6 weeks’ annual leave under the WTR each year – equivalent to 8 days for full-timers. This signifies the usual number of public holidays in England and Wales. However, unless the employment contract states otherwise, there is no obligation to use these days on public holidays, nor is there a statutory right to time off (paid or otherwise) on any public holiday. For clarity, this should be specified within the employment contract as it is the case for many businesses – such as those within the hospitality and care sectors, that working on public holidays amounts to an operational necessity.
In considering the issue of the additional Bank Holiday of 3rd June 2022, employers will need to check the detail within the employment contract. Should the contract specify that an employee’s annual leave allocation includes 8 days of public holidays, then a decision will need to be made around whether the employer gifts their employees the additional Bank Holiday in 2022. However, if the contract specifies an employee’s annual leave includes all Bank and Public holidays, the additional Bank Holiday for 2022 will be included. The contract may also specify that employees are entitled to days off in lieu should they be required to work on public holidays and these are all matters for employer consideration.
Part timers and Bank Holidays
The position of part-time employees and Bank and Public holidays entitlement is not always easily understood. There is no statutory right to paid public holidays, but employers have a duty to ensure part-time workers also receive 5.6 weeks’ leave, pro-rated, in line with the hours they work. For example, where employers only provide a part-time worker with holiday when a Bank or Public holiday falls on a day they normally work, this can often lead to unfavourable treatment and can breach the Part Time Worker Regulations and leave entitlements under the Working Time Regulations (WTR), particularly if their working days do not fall on a Monday, as this the day when most Bank Holidays occur.
The easiest way for employers to achieve parity with full time workers is to calculate a pro-rata entitlement to Bank or Public Holidays for part timers, regardless of whether they work or do not work, on the days where those Bank or Public holidays occur.
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