2020: Leap Year & Bank Holidays - What You Need to Know

By Amanda Beattie
03 Feb 2020

Many employers will already know that 2020 is a leap year. This means that—for the first time since 2016—February is getting an extra day.

However, one development that may have slipped under your radar is 2020’s May Day bank holiday. Usually falling on the first Monday in May, this year it is going to take place on Friday 8 May, in order to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day.

Faced with these changes to the calendar, what should you be ready for?

Leaps and banks

Employee pay

An employee’s pay entitlements on 29 February 2020 will depend upon whether they are salaried or receive pay according to the hours they work. Employees who receive the same basic pay every month aren’t entitled to any extra pay. That’s despite potentially working on this additional day.

Salaried workers are paid a set salary for the year. As such, this extra day will be considered to already have been factored into their overall earnings. This may change if there’s a term explicitly providing additional pay during a leap year within their contract. You should check that the extra day doesn’t send employee pay below the national minimum on average.

The situation differs slightly if the individuals concerned are paid according to the hours they work. In this situation, they’ll be entitled to be paid for all of the time worked. This could mean they receive an additional amount if the extra day causes them to work more hours than usual. For example, persons who work irregular shifts and are asked to work on February 29 may end up coming out with more money overall in February.

Bank holidays

Jumping ahead of time to May, the situation does get a little more complicated. Bank holidays often form part of a worker’s annual leave entitlement. So, you should review the impact of any bank holiday adjustment on your usual practices.

It’s important to remember that employees don’t have a stand-alone legal right to have a day off on bank holidays. Instead, it’s the contract of employment which dictates when time off can be taken. Therefore, employers should check the wording of workers’ terms and conditions to determine their position.

What do your contracts say?

Some contracts may give employees an entitlement to time off on all bank holidays. Others may specify an ‘Early May Bank Holiday’, without giving any more detail. In this situation, employees would be entitled to take a period of paid leave on the Friday, instead of the Monday.

Other variations of contractual wording may include a specific entitlement for the worker to have a day off on the original date. This may put you in the situation where workers are due to be on leave on a day the business remains open. Then, they’ll be available for work on a shutdown day.

This can be resolved by using any flexibility built into the contract to nominate alternative days of leave. Or, you can agree on a temporary amendment to terms & conditions with workers to ensure leave aligns with the Bank Holiday dates.

Expert support

If you're struggling to accommodate the leap year or bank holidays, speak to one of Leave & Absence experts on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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