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HR’s Guide to Bank Holidays

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Friday 24th of January 2020 Hadyn Luke 24/01/2020

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HR’s Guide to Bank Holidays

Bank holidays – public holidays when the banks are closed – are regular features throughout the working year, enjoyed by many employees. However, sometimes staff are asked to work on a bank holiday and employers must ensure sure they comply with the law.

While an HR professional will be able to give you detailed advice on your legal responsibilities, our guide offers an overview of what employers and employees should expect when it comes to bank holidays.

How many bank holidays are there?

In England, Wales and Scotland, there are usually eight bank holidays a year. However, the dates in Scotland can vary from the dates in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, there are usually 10 bank holidays a year.

Some bank holidays are always on the same date, eg Christmas Day and Boxing Day; others change from year to year, eg Good Friday and Easter Monday.

What is a ‘substitute’ day?

If Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, then the bank holiday will be on the following Monday.

What are employee’s rights if asked to work on a bank holiday?

Your employer does not have to offer you paid leave on bank holidays. Instead, they can include them as part of your statutory annual leave. You should check your contract for your employer’s position on bank holidays.

In other cases, workers might be offered a day in lieu, or an additional day’s pay, if they work on a bank holiday. Some employers may even pay more, for example 1½ or 2 x the standard rate of pay, for working on a bank holiday – this can help staff morale, but they have no statutory obligation to do so.

What about part-time workers?

Part-time employees must essentially be treated the same as full-time employees when it comes to bank holidays, with time off worked out pro-rata. If, for example, a part-time staff member usually works Tuesday to Thursday, when bank holidays are less likely to fall, they should still be offered the equivalent time off in lieu for a bank holiday on a Monday.

Employers should have a clear and transparent policy in place for all employees, however many hours they work.

What if an employee is ill on a bank holiday?

If the employee’s contract includes bank holidays as part of their minimum annual leave, rather than additional to it, they would be entitled to a day in lieu or sick pay.

However, in cases where bank holidays are additional to their annual leave allowance, this is generally simply bad luck – the equivalent of being ill on a Saturday or Sunday (for those who work Monday to Friday). While some employers might give the worker a day off in lieu, they are not obliged to.

Key considerations

The key considerations when it comes to bank holidays are that all employees are treated equally, and that employees’ contracts and handbooks clearly set out company policy.

Employers should consider whether to reward those who work bank holidays with extra pay. They could also offer an employee of a non-Christian faith the option of working on bank holidays such as Easter then taking the equivalent time off for their own religious festivals.

Being generous and flexible will often help to reduce grievances, boost morale and produce a more motivated workforce.

When are the bank holidays in 2020?

Bank holidays for England and Wales in 2020

Friday 1 January                      New Year’s Day

Friday 10 April                         Good Friday

Monday 13 April                     Easter Monday

Friday 8 May                           Early May bank holiday (VE Day)*

Monday 25 May                      Spring bank holiday

Monday 31 August                  Summer bank holiday

Friday 25 December               Christmas Day

Monday 28 December            Boxing Day substitute day**

Bank holidays for Scotland in 2020

Friday 1 January                      New Year’s Day

Friday 10 April                         Good Friday

Friday 8 May                           Early May bank holiday (VE Day)*

Monday 25 May                      Spring bank holiday

Monday 3 August                    Summer bank holiday

Monday 30 November            St Andrew’s Day

Friday 25 December               Christmas Day

Monday 28 December            Boxing Day substitute day**

Bank holidays for Northern Ireland in 2020

Friday 1 January                      New Year’s Day

Tuesday 17 March                  St Patrick’s Day

Friday 10 April                         Good Friday

Monday 13 April                     Easter Monday

Friday 8 May                           Early May bank holiday (VE Day)*

Monday 25 May                      Spring bank holiday

Monday 13 July                       Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day)

Monday 31 August                  Summer bank holiday

Friday 25 December               Christmas Day

Monday 28 December            Boxing Day substitute day**

* This bank holiday is usually on the first Monday in May but has been moved to a Friday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day in 2020.

** Boxing Day is 26 December but as it falls on a Saturday, the bank holiday is on the following Monday.

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