HR Expert: Change in Bank Holiday
My client wants to know how the change in date of next year’s Early May Bank Holiday could affect them from an employment law perspective. Can you please advise?  

Following the government’s recent announcement, next year’s Early May Bank Holiday is expected to move from its usual position of the first Monday in May to Friday 8th May in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

Unlike in previous years, where additional Bank Holidays were provided for the 2011 Royal Wedding and the Queen’s Jubilee, the Early May Bank Holiday is simply being moved meaning the total number of Bank Holidays across the UK will not change.

Employees will no doubt be wondering whether they will get the Friday off work and this will depend largely on the wording of their employment contracts. Your client is encouraged to review existing contracts along with their usual practices when it comes to Bank Holidays to determine how this change will impact time off next year.

Your client must remember that employees do not have the statutory right to time off on a Bank Holiday. Therefore, if your client’s contracts require individuals to work on Bank Holidays they can continue to enforce this, providing they guarantee enough time off in lieu (TOIL) to abide by the statutory annual leave requirements.

A closer inspection of terms and conditions will be required if your client usually allows employees time off on Bank Holidays. The exact wording used will be important in these circumstances to determine your client’s options. If contracts state employees are entitled to time off on ‘all Bank Holidays’, or on ‘Early May Bank Holiday’ without expressing a particular date then employees will have a right to the day off on Friday 8th May next year.

Alternatively, if your client’s contracts state a specific entitlement for employees to have the day off on the usual date of Early May Bank Holiday e.g. ‘the first Monday in May’ then this may create some additional issues. For example, if your client’s business shuts down for Bank Holidays, they could face the inconvenience of employees being on leave on a day the business remains open and available for work on a shutdown day. Employers could rely on any flexibility built into the contract to designate the Friday as an alternative day of leave.

Your client should take time to review their contracts and existing practices before confirming their approach. Regardless of the approach, they should confirm their position on the moved Bank Holiday with their employees and ensure everyone is aware of their leave entitlements for 2020.

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