Do Bank Holidays Count Towards Your Overall Annual Holiday Entitlement?

By Andrew Willis
01 Apr 2021

As a general rule, you don’t have to give your employee public holidays as paid leave, meaning their entitlement is entirely at your discretion.

However, despite this rule, the question ‘Am I entitled to bank holidays as paid leave?’ pops up quite often.

So, to settle the matter once and for all, we will take a look at the UK bank holiday entitlement for each contract type.

Bank Holiday Entitlement

Bank holiday entitlement for part-time workers

With such a large portion of the population working part-time jobs or are shift workers, it is no wonder individuals are asking if they have bank holiday entitlement.

Like full-time employees, part-time workers have no statutory right to bank holidays as paid leave.

It's important to ensure parity between the two.

We’ll get into how you should calculate holiday entitlement for part-time workers later in the article.

What’s most important is that you treat full-time workers and part-time workers equally. So if you allow one to have paid leave, so should the other.

Pro rata bank holiday entitlement

In a similar vein, you should not treat pro rata employees any more or less favourably than part-time, or full-time, workers.

The challenge with pro-rata staff members comes when they're working irregular hours.

There is no set formula for this, as long as you treat them equally and fairly, and have this policy set out in the employee contracts and handbook, you should be safe.

Bank holiday entitlement when off sick

If the member of your team has bank holidays off as part of their entitled annual leave and is then sick on a public holiday, you should allow the employee to take the annual leave at a later time.

However, if the staff member has time off in addition to their entitled annual leave, and is then sick, what happens is dependent on the terms of their contract.

It isn’t unheard of for employees to feign illness when they are not entitled to paid leave. If you believe they're lying about their illness, you need to conduct a formal investigation and follow disciplinary procedures if necessary.

Making false accusations, or outright refusing to pay the employee SSP (if they’re entitled to it) is likely to result in a constructive dismissal claim.

Bank holiday entitlement on maternity leave

The first and most important thing you need to consider when assessing holiday entitlement for an employee on maternity leave is this:

Current UK law entitles any individual on maternity leave to all the terms and conditions she normally has during the period she is absent from work.

You need to return to the staff member's contract for a conclusive answer. Are they normally entitled to paid public holidays?

If the answer is yes, then you should include those days in the employee’s entitlement.

If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t include those days as part of their annual leave. And they won’t accrue them during their time off on maternity leave.

Bank holiday entitlement for part-time workers – calculator

Standard annual leave calculations for full-time, 9 am-5 pm employees, are fairly simple and common. Part-time workers are a little more complicated.

UK bank holiday entitlement for full-time members of staff is dependent on the type of contract. Legally, individuals have 28 days or 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year.

This entitlement does not have to include bank holidays.

Paid leave for public holidays is entirely at the discretion of the employer.

With this in mind, you first need to be able to calculate the part-time worker’s overall holiday entitlement.

To do this, you use the same factor (5.6) used in full-time calculations.

If an individual works two days a week, then the calculation is 2 x 5.6 = 11.2, meaning the worker gets 11.2 days of annual leave.

Of course, .2 of a day is quite tricky to take, so you should round this up, making the total annual leave entitlement, 12 days.

Now that you know how to work out total holiday entitlement, we can bring bank holidays into the equation.

You should give paid public holidays to part-time workers if you give them to full-time employees, in the interest of equality.

However, this can be tricky, considering part-time workers, by definition, work fewer hours than full-time staff members.

To calculate part-time entitlement, you need to know how many days of paid public holiday you full-time workers have.

As an example, if full-time employees get 8 days paid bank holiday, and they work 40 hours a week, they are receiving 64 hours’ worth of bank holiday leave. (8 days x 8 hours = 64 hours)

Now, if we return to the part-time worker who only works two days a week, there is a certain calculation you need to do.

That calculation is: 16 / 40 x 64


The 16 is for the total hours the employee works per week, the 40 is for the maximum working hours per week, and the 64 is the bank holiday entitlement of your full-time staff members x regular hours per working day.

So, to break that down, it's:

(Number of hours worked per week/number of hours in a full-time week) x (full-time bank holiday entitlement x number of hours per working day)

In this scenario, the total bank holiday entitlement would be 25.6 hours (which you would round up to 26).

You may face a scenario where part-time workers have half days or quarter days, which can be tricky, but it often pays off to be flexible where you can.

This isn’t the only calculation for working out bank holiday entitlement for part-time workers, but it is the simplest and most common.

Annual Leave requests can cause tension…

Employers often seize up when asked the question “Does holiday entitlement include bank holidays?”

If this article hasn’t answered all your questions, or you require further support on annual leave or any other HR issue, speak to a Croner expert today on 0800 145 3384.

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.





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