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Holiday entitlement for workers

by Charlotte Anderson | Nov 21, 2019
NCASS members can access specialist business support inclusive of their membership package.

With a majority of businesses resetting holiday entitlement in January, and staff beginning to book their 2020 breaks, it is worth taking a look at annual leave entitlement and understanding the rules to avoid any risk of disputes.


Generally speaking, there is no requirement for employers to offer paid leave for public holidays, yet there remains a lot of confusion around public holidays and pay. To provide clarity on the matter, Croner – the Nationwide Caterers Association’s trusted HR and employment law partner – explain UK bank holiday entitlements for different contract types below.

Bank Holiday Entitlement for Full-time Workers

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 paid holiday per year. 

This entitlement does not have to include bank holidays, and paid leave for bank holidays is entirely at the discretion of the employer.

Bank Holiday Entitlement for Part-time Workers

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.

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 a policy set out in the employee contracts and handbook, you minimise any risk.

Bank Holiday Entitlement when off Sick

If a 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 procedure 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 to 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.

Expert Advice

NCASS members have access to expert business support and specialist advice from Croner.

Get in touch with your Account Manager for more information.

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