Is every employee entitled to bank holidays off?

With the final bank holiday of the summer season on the horizon you may be facing questions about entitlements to bank holidays. The law itself does not give employees the right to time off for a bank holiday, so the answer to this question will depend on the wording of your contracts of employment. Employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of annual leave which may or may not include public and bank holidays.

Where employers give employees a contractual right to receive time off work for bank holidays, the wording in the contract is important. They may state:

  • 28 days plus bank holidays – this means they receive 28 days holiday with the bank holidays on top.
  • 28 days inclusive of bank holidays – this generally means the employee gets 20 days holiday and 8 days holiday to take for bank holidays.

Bank holiday payments

There is no legal right to receive any additional pay for working on a bank holiday, although some employers may choose to offer enhanced payments such as double time or time and a half. Any entitlements to extra pay for bank holiday working will again depend on the content of the contract of employment. 

Part time workers

Part time workers have the right to not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker. Giving full time employees time off for a bank holiday and not part time workers will be less favourable treatment. Some employers may think this is correct, particularly where part time workers would not normally work bank holidays however, to maintain equal treatment the safest approach is to give part time workers a pro-rata allowance of bank holidays, regardless of whether they normally work these days.