The King’s Coronation will take place on Saturday 6th May. In celebration of this historic event, Monday 8th May has been designated a national bank holiday. This means there will be a total of 3 bank holidays in May for employers to prepare for.

Are all employees entitled to the extra bank holiday?

The law itself does not provide the right to time off for bank holidays, instead it specifies that employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday each year. So the answer to the question will usually depend on the wording set out in the contract of employment.

Some typical examples:

Contract statesWhat it means
Xx days holiday plus all bank and public holidaysThere is a contractual right to the extra day
Xx days holiday plus 8 bank holidaysThe entitlement is limited to 8 bank holidays so there is no contractual right to the extra day  
Xx days plus the usual bank holidaysAlthough slightly more open to interpretation, the implication here is that the extra bank holiday is not “usual” and therefore there would be no entitlement to the additional day.
5.6 weeks holiday per yearThe entitlement here does not account separately for bank holidays. If the day is not worked it can be deducted from the annual entitlement.

Employer’s discretion

Even if you are not contractually obliged to grant the extra day as leave, you may decide to offer this as a gesture of goodwill.

Must I pay extra if an employee works on a bank holiday?

There is no statutory right to extra pay (e.g. time and a half or double time) when an employee works on a bank holiday. Any right to extra pay should be set out in the contract of employment.  Be mindful that where there is nothing set out in writing, a contractual entitlement may be implied through custom and practice. For example if you have regularly paid bank holidays at double time there is likely to be an expectation that this will continue.

What is someone’s supposed to work but refuses?

If an employee has the contractual right to take bank holidays as annual leave, you cannot insist that they work. If you really need your employee to work on the bank holiday it would be best to try and reach a compromise. For instance, you could seek their agreement to work the bank holiday in exchange for a day off in lieu at a later date or with additional pay as an incentive.

If an employee doesn’t have the contractual right to take time off on a bank holiday but refuses to attend work, this can be treated as a disciplinary issue. Refer to your disciplinary policy and manage the situation accordingly. If you’re unsure what to do in your specific circumstances we can help to advise and guide you.

We’re closed for the bank holiday but my employees are not contractually entitled to the extra bank holiday and I can’t afford to pay this as a gesture of goodwill – what can I do?

Our advice is to speak to your employees without delay to explain the situation. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 you have the right to specify dates on which your staff must take leave. By planning ahead you can ask them to book the time off and deduct this from their normal annual leave entitlement. You will need to give notice that is at least twice the length of the period of leave to be taken. In this case you will need to give at least 2 days’ notice, but it is good practice to give extra time if possible.