Four questions on staffing bank holidays in your business

Wednesday April 17, 2019

With bank holidays approaching, you may well be wondering how best to manage your workforce to keep business running as usual.

Depending on the nature of your business, staff could either expect to have the regular bank holidays off or be keen to get their leave requests approved. Some may have even been vocalising their important plans for some time now, in the hope that it will give them the edge over their colleagues. Others might desire holiday at either end of the bank holidays to extend their break, or could have cottoned on to this year’s rare calendar quirk: 18 days off using just 9 days’ holiday.

These situations can also raise questions about days off in lieu, payment of overtime and holiday entitlement. Weren’t bank holidays supposed to be relaxing?

They still can be. With some processes in place and knowledge of how best to manage your workforce around bank holidays, you can ensure minimal disruption to your business and avoid a holiday headache. We have answered some of the most common questions on this topic below.

One: Do I legally have to give my staff bank holidays off?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 state that workers are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday each year, with a pro-rated entitlement for part-time workers. It is up to you if this holiday entitlement includes bank holidays or not. You will need to stipulate terms surrounding holiday entitlement in your employment contracts.

Two: My business is open on a bank holiday. How do I balance holiday requests?

This can be tricky for a small or medium sized business. You need your business to operate, but will equally want to be fair to your workforce. Staff contracts should explain the rules surrounding work on bank holidays and the following tips can help you to balance any requests for leave:

  • Use a fair process for approving holiday requests such as first come first served.
  • But don’t disregard religious reasons for requesting holiday, it could lead to discrimination.
  • Encourage workers to make plans early on to avoid disappointment.
  • Use a holiday management system like The HR toolkit which comes with a holiday calendar.

Three: Do I need to adjust pay for those working on a bank holiday?

There is no legal obligation to offer additional pay to staff working on a bank holiday. However, many employers do decide to offer an attractive rate for work-life balance. Where working bank holidays is mandatory the terms must be outlined in your employment contracts. Calculating holiday pay is complicated, ask us if you are unsure.

Four: Do I need to provide time off in lieu to those working on a bank holiday?

You will need to provide time off in lieu (TOIL) if a member of staff is required to work on a bank holiday which goes towards their statutory holiday entitlement.

If bank holidays are in addition to their statutory holiday entitlement, as in they get 28 days + bank holidays, it will come down to what you have agreed in their contract regarding TOIL. Many companies pay additional time plus time off in lieu.

Have unanswered questions?

As an employer it is your responsibility to provide workers with the correct holiday entitlement. Getting it wrong can see you facing an employment tribunal claim for breaching the law.

If you manage a diverse workforce who work a range of hours and days, calculating holiday can be complex. If you have unanswered questions regarding staffing on bank holidays, we can help.

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