Working Time Directive and the Royal Bank Holidays (2011/2012)

Posted on Apr 1st, 2011 | Employment law

With the additional Royal Wedding Bank Holiday in April 2011 and the additional Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday in June 2012 things are bound to get complicated. Here’s what you need to know.

About Bank Holidays

  • There are two different types of ‘Bank’ Holidays – bank holidays and public holidays.
  • There are different bank and public holidays in different parts of the UK.
  • There are currently six permanent bank holidays in England and Wales, plus Christmas Day and Good Friday, which are public holidays.
  • Additional bank holidays can be declared, by law, to celebrate special occasions and it has been announced that there will be a special bank holiday on 29th April 2011 to celebrate the royal wedding and on 5th June 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In 2012 the late May bank holiday will be moved to Monday 4th June 2012.
  • In Scotland there are seven permanent bank holidays, and Christmas Day and Good Friday are public holidays. There are also other public or local holidays which can be determined by local authorities, based on local tradition. Scotland will also have an additional bank holiday on 29th April 2011 for the royal wedding and on 5th June 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee.
  • In Northern Ireland, there are eight permanent bank holidays, and Christmas Day and Good Friday are public holidays. Northern Ireland will also have the 2 additional ‘royal’ bank holidays in 2011 and 2012.

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About Bank Holidays and working life

  • There is no statutory right for Employees to have paid or unpaid leave on bank holidays (but your employment contract may allow this). The statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days (under the Working Time Directive legislation) MAY include bank holidays (or your Employer may give you some or all of the bank holiday days in addition to the 28 days).
  • There is no statutory right to extra pay, or time off in lieu, if you work on a bank holiday. Any right to extra pay depends on the terms of your employment contract.
  • Part-time employees should receive a pro-rata’d allowance of paid bank holidays to ensure they are dealt with fairly – even if they do not normally work on the days the bank holidays fall.
  • Where a bank holiday is aligned to a Christian festival (i.e. Easter) there is no requirement to allow additional time off, on other dates, for employees who practice other religions.
  • If you are on Statutory Parental Leave, Statutory Paternity Leave, Statutory Maternity Leave or Statutory Adoption Leave during a bank holiday are you entitled to a compensatory day off (or pay in lieu)? This depends – if you receive the minimum holiday entitlement of 28 days per year, which includes bank holidays, then any bank holiday that falls during your parental leave would entitle you to receive a day off in lieu for this bank holiday. However, if you receive paid time off for bank holidays on top of the statutory minimum 28 days then your right to a compensatory day off or pay in lieu will depend on what your employment contract (or any holiday policy) says.

For more information on this subject, see our Working Time Directive Guide

How does the Royal Bank Holiday affect my holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations?

That depends!

The announcement of an extra bank holiday in 2011 and 2012 does not increase your entitlement from a minimum 28 days holiday entitlement (or 5.6 weeks) under the Working Time Directive Regulations, e.g. your entitlement is not increased to 29 days in these 2 years. So, whether you will get the additional bank holiday off will be entirely dependent on the wording of your employment contract. 

For example:

  • If your contract entitles you to, say, 20 days annual leave plus all statutory, bank and public holidays, you would potentially get an extra day’s paid holiday on 29th April. But, if public holidays are listed by name, in your contract, or your contract says 20 days plus the usual 8 public/bank holidays then you may not receive this extra bank holiday.
  • Also if your contract says 28 days inclusive of public/bank holidays then you are unlikely to receive this extra bank holiday.

There could be issues:

If you are a part-time employee who has your holiday entitlement rounded up to allow for your pro-rata bank holiday entitlement. For example, a full-time employee working five days a week might get 20 days holiday plus eight bank holidays on top while an employee working part-time for, say, three days a week may get their pro-rata equivalent (which is 16.8 days) inclusive of their bank holiday entitlement. This is fairly usual and it means that when a bank holiday falls on a day when part-timers would normally be at work, they have to use some of their rounded-up entitlement to take the time off.

The problem in 2011 (and 2012) is there will be no extra statutory holiday entitlement on 29th April, whereas full-time staff are generally more likely to have an arrangement where bank holidays are given on top of their basic holiday entitlement. Part-time staff could complain that they are being treated less favourably, in which case their Employer will have to consider offering more leave in order to avoid receiving an Employment Tribunal ‘less favourable treatment’ claim.

If you are an agency worker or freelancer who has been told you will NOT be paid for this ‘extra’ bank holiday when people working at the same company who are ‘employees’ will. What can you do? Agency workers won’t have the right to ‘equal treatment’ in comparison to ‘employees’ until October 2011, so it is possible that agency workers will not be get paid for this bank holiday when ‘employees’ will. However, if your contract specifies 20 days holiday plus all bank/public holidays then they you could easily argue you are entitled to the additional bank holiday off. Alternatively, to be paid for this ‘additional’ bank holiday an agency worker may need to take a day off out of their normal 28 day holiday entitlement.

In terms of pay, as with any bank holiday, your right to pay for working on the additional bank holiday will depend on the wording of your contract, as there is no statutory right to additional pay or time off in lieu on a bank holiday. Many organisations do, however, have agreed rates for working on bank holidays, such as double time, or time off in lieu and these would be expected to be applied as normal on 29th April.

Workline is supported by Employment Lawyers Goodman Derrick LLP. Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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Written by Lesley Furber

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