Did you know that this year, the May Day public holiday which usually falls on the first Monday in May is being moved back to Friday 8th May, to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of VE day? According to reports, many diaries and calendars had already been printed before the announcement was made, and so we recommend you check your calendars and diaries to ensure you have the right dates in them!
This raises the question of how employers can manage public holidays for their teams. Almost all workers and employees are statutorily entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday each year. For an employee working a five-day week, this works out as 28 days. Commonly in office environments, this will be written into employment contracts as 20 days plus public holidays, which for a full-time employee is usually a simple arrangement. If you employ a part-time employee, it can also seem simple to use the same wording and calculate a reduced entitlement on a pro-rata basis. However, as Example 1 shows, this approach can create difficulties:
|Example 1: Serena & Roger |
Serena and Roger work in an office which is open five days per week and closes on public holidays. They work on a job-share basis, and their hours are as follows:
Serena: All day on Mondays and Tuesdays, mornings only on Wednesdays
Roger: Afternoons only on Wednesdays, all day on Thursdays and Fridays
Full-time employees are entitled to 20 days’ leave each year, plus the bank holidays. As Serena and Roger each work 2.5 days per week, which is half a full-time post, their line manager gives them each 10 days’ holiday plus bank holidays, as this seems fair.
During 2019, the public holidays in England and Wales fell on the following days of the week:
As a result of this, Serena’s leave for 2019 was 10 days plus 5.5 public holidays. Roger’s, however, was only 10 days plus 2.5 public holidays. Roger, unsurprisingly, felt that this was rather unfair!
So how can employers with part-time staff ensure fairness? Example 2 sets out an alternative approach:
|Example 2: Andy and Simona |
Andy and Simona work in the same office as Serena and Roger, and also have a job share arrangement working 2.5 days per week each. However, in response to Roger being unhappy, the manager has changed the way that holidays for part-time staff are calculated.
Andy and Simona are each entitled to 5.6 weeks’ leave each year. Their manager calculates the holiday entitlement as follows:
5.6 x 2.5 (the number of days they work each week) = 14 days.
Because the office is closed on public holidays, each of them has to work out how many public holidays fall on one of their usual days of work, and they have to save enough of their holiday allowance to be able to take this. This does mean that Andy, who works on Mondays, has to save more if his entitlement than Simona. However, both of them get the same amount of time off, which is fairer.
However, whilst the banks and many offices may be closed on public holidays, many businesses continue to trade as normal, and for some, they may even be busier than usual, such as shops and restaurants dealing with increased footfall resulting from people enjoying their leisure time.
Workplaces who are open on bank holidays do not have to give their staff the day off, or even pay them extra (unless they have made provision within their employment contracts), as according to gov.uk: “Bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave.” However, they do have to meet that statutory requirement of 5.6 weeks, and so your staff will be entitled to the same amount of holiday in the end.
If you are an employer and would like support to ensure your employment contract wording around bank holidays is fit for purpose, please contact View HR to discuss how we can help you.