Bank holidays- Are Employees entitled to an extra bank holiday in 2022?

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bank holiday article

To commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, there will be changes to bank holidays in 2022.

The late May bank holiday which would have fallen on Monday 30th May 2022 will be moved to Thursday 2nd June 2022 and there will be an additional bank holiday on Friday 3rd June 2022.

In this article we answer some key questions on not only planning for this additional bank holiday but also the subject of bank holidays in general.

What are bank holidays?

There are usually 8 bank holidays in England and Wales, 9 in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.

Introduced in 1871 by writer, banker and politician Sir John Lubbock, the Bank Holiday Bill applied only to banks and financial institutions.

Nowadays bank holidays are taken throughout the year and coincide with religious festivals, the commemoration of historical events and to mark special occasions. Whilst we are all fond of our bank holidays, they can often cause something of a headache for employers.

Can staff demand a bank holiday off work?

Technically no but it depends on the contract of employment and how your business operates.

A lot of companies give their staff the statutory amount of annual leave each year, which is 28 days (5.6 weeks) for a full-time worker and usually the bank holidays are included in the 28-day entitlement.

If you close your business on a bank holiday this is very straight forward. Your staff who would normally be in work on the day a bank holiday falls will have the time off for the bank holiday deducted from their holiday entitlement and will be paid accordingly.

If your business is open on a bank holiday and the bank holiday falls on an employee’s normal working day, they are expected to be in work unless they have requested and booked the day off.

To avoid any dispute, it is vital that if you do require your staff to work on bank holidays that their contract of employment reflects this.

I have a part-time member of staff who works on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They say that they have less leave than their part-time colleague who works Wednesday, Thursday and Friday because most bank holidays fall on a Monday. Do I need to increase their entitlement?

No, although this is a common gripe from employees.

What we need to focus on is the time off employees have from work. So, if we take the example above and assume the employer allows 28 days leave (including bank holidays) for its full-time staff, an employee working 3 days a week would be entitled to 16.8 days a year, rounded up to 17 days.

Let’s also conclude the business is closed on bank holidays.

The employee who works Monday to Wednesday will have any Monday bank holiday off work and will be paid for that day. This day will be deducted from their holiday entitlement.

Their colleague who works Wednesday to Friday is not affected by a bank holiday falling on a Monday because it is not their normal working day. They do not have a day deducted from their entitlement nor are they paid for this day.

It seems unfair because with the exception of Good Friday and how the Christmas bank holidays fall in any given year, the part-time employee who does not work on Mondays seems to have more days leave to ‘play with’ than their colleague. However, the key thing to remember is that they both receive the same number of paid days off in a holiday year.

Please be aware that part-time employees are legally protected from less favourable treatment to their full-time colleagues. So please ensure that whatever the full time holiday equivalent is for full time staff, that part time staff are also given the pro rata equivalent.

A member of staff is insisting on taking the bank holidays which coincide with religious festivals. They say that I am discriminating against them if I do not allow this. My business is open on bank holidays; do I have to give them the time off?

The Equality Act does not state that employees have a right to time off for religious reasons, so technically the answer is no. However, we need to be mindful that some bank holidays do fall at times of religious significance.

Please see our article on discrimination to make sure you are not indirectly discriminating against an employee who requests the time off for religious reasons.

So, if it is business as usual for you on bank holidays and the contract requires an employee to work, you are entitled to insist on this but if a holiday is requested for religious reasons and you can accommodate the request, do so.

What about the extra bank holiday next year? Do I have to give my staff an extra day paid leave?

Extra bank holidays are not granted very often, the last one was in 2011 to coincide with the royal wedding.

As to whether you need to grant the additional bank holiday in 2022 will depend on how your contracts are worded.

Scenario 1

If the employee contract lists the bank holiday dates, you do not have to grant an extra day of paid leave unless you wish to do so.

For example, the holiday section of the contract states something along the lines of:

  1. Our holiday year runs from the 1st April and ends on 31st March each year. You are entitled to 28 days holiday during each full holiday year, (pro rata for part time employees). Including the following public/bank holidays:
  • New Year’s Day     
  • Good Friday  
  • Easter Monday
  • Early May Bank Holiday
  • Spring Bank Holiday
  • Summer Bank Holiday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day


     2. Our holiday year runs from the 1st April and ends on 31st March each year. You are entitled to 28 days holiday during each full holiday year, (pro rata   for part time employees). Including the 8 public/bank holidays. 

Scenario 2

If the employee contract does not list the specific bank holidays or the number of bank holidays, you are advised to allow the extra day.

For example, the contract states something to the effect of,

‘Your annual leave entitlement is 28 days, including the bank/ public holidays’

REMEMBER– if you have any queries regarding bank holidays, or indeed any queries regarding paid annual leave, please contact our experts.

author avatar
Elena Boura