Most workers have a right to the statutory minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998. For fulltime employees, this amounts to 28 days (which is equivalent of four weeks’ holiday plus the usual public holidays). Note that Scotland and Northern Ireland have slightly different bank holidays to the rest of the UK. Of course, this is only is the minimum requirement, and many employers choose to contractually offer their employees additional holiday rights, although they are under no statutory obligation to do so.

The provision of holiday entitlement is often a tricky area of employment law for employers to navigate. Our Employment Department have put together this list of things to keep in mind when it comes to bank holidays:-

  1. Employers should not treat part-time employees any less favourably than comparable full-time employees, including in respect of their bank holiday entitlements. Employers should ensure that part-time employees are provided with a pro-rated allowance of paid bank holidays, regardless of whether they normally work on the days which they fall.
  2. There is no statutory right for employees to have bank holidays off work on the days which they actually fall. Any right to time off is in fact determined by the terms of the employee’s employment contract.
  3. If your employees do work on a bank holiday, you are not obliged to provide extra payment, such as double pay or time and a half. Employers can choose to give their employees such rights by inserting relevant terms in their contracts of employment.
  4. If an employee is contractually required to work on bank holidays, then he/she cannot then refuse to do so. However, employers should be wary of indirect religious discrimination. For example, this could arise if an employer refused to grant a Christian employee time off for a bank holiday that holds religious significance, as it could be construed as indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a disadvantage in comparison with other non-Christian employees.
  5. The wording of an employment contract can mean employers are providing more holiday pay than they need to. For example, if an employee has a contract of employment which states that they are entitled to the “statutory entitlement, plus bank holidays”, this does not limit holiday to 20 days’ paid leave plus the eight bank holidays. Since the 2009 increase in the statutory minimum leave from 4 weeks to 5.6, this wording effectively grants the employee 28 days’ holiday plus the eight bank holidays.

If you wish to check your employment contracts in light of any of these points, or if you have an issue concerning holiday entitlement with an employee, contact a member of our employment team and we will be happy to help.


For further information, please contact Kerry Curd, a Partner in the Employment Department, by telephone on 01626 202406 or email WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Exeter, Torquay, Paignton, Bovey Tracey, Launceston, Honiton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.