August Bank Holiday – Are Employees Entitled to Time Off?

By Andrew Willis
21 Aug 2019

The August bank holiday is the one that most employees—and employers—seem to forget. Since it’s just around the corner, now is a good time for a refresher on the rules surrounding bank holiday entitlement.

August Bank Holiday

Do I have to give my staff time off?

No, you don’t have to allow time off for a bank holiday.

Whether employees are required to work on August 26th is dependent on their contract of employment.

You’re free to set your own rules and may choose to give time off for some bank holidays and not others.

For example, summer may be a busy time for your business and you could want all of your staff to be working throughout August.

Alternatively, if you have a business need for staff to work on all bank holidays—including the August holiday—then you can enforce this in their contracts.

How do I refuse a request?

If you require staff to work on the bank holiday, but they want the day off, encourage them to book this in line with your annual leave policy.

You can still refuse the request if you have a legitimate business reason.

But this way, if the employee fails to turn up to work on the bank holiday, you could treat it as an unauthorised absence.

You should and ask staff to use their holiday allocation at another time.

What are my employees’ legal entitlements?

It’s important to remember that although staff don’t have the automatic right to time off for bank holidays, any requirement to work mustn’t impact their right to 5.6 weeks of paid leave per year.

If you only offer staff the statutory minimum holiday entitlement, you’ll need to ensure they take a day off in lieu later in the year for working a bank holiday.

On the other hand, if you allow staff to take in excess of 5.6 weeks during the year, you don’t necessarily need to ensure they get a day off in lieu. This will depend on their terms of employment or any existing custom and practice in your workplace.

Also, there’s no legal entitlement to extra pay for working on a bank holiday. Pay is determined by the contract of employment.

If you don’t include this detail in an employee’s contract, then you can agree terms at a later date, or follow a workplace precedent.

If employees have been paid extra in the past, then there’s a custom and practice in place. As a result, you must pay the worker in the same way.

The key to avoiding grievances and complaints around bank holidays is simple. Whatever your policy is, whatever arrangements you make, make staff aware of them in good time.

Expert support

If you’re having trouble with holiday requests, entitlement, or another HR issue, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.