2021 marks a special occasion, when it comes to the Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays. This year those days fall onto the weekend (yes, we know this happens from time to time), and we thought this would be a good opportunity to look at Bank Holidays for a HR perspective for you.

For you as an employer it is important to take note of all UK Bank Holidays in advance. This together with UK employment laws will tell you if employees are entitled to time off on bank holidays and if they should be paid or not.

Bank Holidays are holidays under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 – originally called St Lubbock’s Days, after the man, who introduced them. (Bank Holiday History)

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a bank holiday is a public and/or religious holiday, which were named bank holidays, because banks would traditionally close on these days. As other companies were dependent on the banks to conduct their business, they would close too.

In England we have the following bank holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Early May Bank Holiday (the first Monday in May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday (the last Monday in May)
  • Summer Bank Holiday (the last Monday in August)
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day (if not a Sunday)

But what if a bank holiday is on a weekend? A ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday.

Let’s look at your Employee’s Statutory Rights

According to UK employment law, almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year, known as annual leave.

It now may surprise you to hear that employees have no bank holiday statutory rights. That means that it depends on your terms of employment if you offer your employees time off for bank holidays or not.

That means you can decide if you want to include all bank holidays for the year to your staff’s annual leave or you offer it as unpaid time off. You are, however, required to specify in your contract of employment whether the employee will receive extra pay when working on a bank holiday.

Those working in essential services, for example fire fighters or healthcare workers usually receive extra pay for working on those 8 days.

As mentioned, employees don’t have a statutory right to extra bank holiday pay. Any additional payments will depend on the terms of their employment contract.

And don’t forget, Part-Time Employees have the same right as their full-time colleagues, on a pro-rata basis.

Something special for 2022 to consider

In 2022 you will need to be aware that there will be extra days to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. This means if you have specified number of bank holidays with your staff, they will not be entitled to extra days off, but you might want to consider offering extra time as a gesture and keep you staff happy and raise your workspace moral.