May has finally arrived which for many people means a bank holiday bonanza. But before you dust down the BBQ for the two May holiday Mondays, stop to consider whether you can bank on getting those bank holidays.
Contrary to the belief of many would-be bank-holiday makers, employees don’t have a legal right to paid public holidays.
Before you switch suitcase for briefcase, check your contract of employment. Your contract should say whether or not you are entitled to public holidays, and if so, which ones.
Most full-time workers have the statutory right to 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave every year. This is proportionally reduced for part time workers. Many employers will offer more than this. Your employer might even offer paid public holidays in addition to your annual leave entitlement, if so – hooray!
However, sometimes paid public holidays are counted within your annual leave entitlement. So a full time worker’s contract might state that they are entitled to a certain number of days or weeks leave, including all bank or public holidays.
Even if your employment contract doesn’t include information on public / bank holidays you might still be entitled to them if it’s the norm for others at your place of work to have those days off in addition to statutory holidays.
Another bank holiday boggle faced by thousands comes up for those who don’t work on Mondays. What happens if you’re entitled to paid public holidays in addition to your statutory holidays but you don’t work on a Monday? Your employer should permit you to take time of in lieu, which means you still get the time off but at an agreed later date. The amount of time off work in lieu will normally be reduced proportionally if you work part-time.
If you don’t work on Mondays and you are not entitled to bank holidays off, the Monday public holiday will be considered as your normal non-working day and you’re unlikely to be entitled to anything further, but check your employment contract to see what it says.
Paula Chan is an Employment Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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