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Working on bank holidays

This advice applies to England

It’s up to your employer to decide whether or not you have to work on bank holidays.

If your place of work is closed on bank holidays, your employer can make you take them as part of your annual leave entitlement.

Some employers might give you bank holidays off and pay you for them on top of your annual leave entitlement. This will be outlined in your contract.

Check the bank holidays in England and Wales.

Check your contract

If you have an employment contract, you should check what it says. It should set out rules about working on bank holidays.

Look for wording like ‘holidays’, ‘holiday entitlement’ or ‘annual leave’.

You might see something that says, “In addition to bank and public holidays, your annual entitlement to holidays is … days” - this would mean you get bank and public holidays in addition to your annual leave entitlement.

Or you might see, “Your annual holiday entitlement (inclusive of bank and public holidays) is ... days” - this would mean you have to take bank holidays as part of your annual leave entitlement.

Your employer must follow what’s in your contract. If they don’t, you should raise the issue with them.

If your contract doesn’t say anything about bank holidays, ask your employer what their rules are.

If you don’t have a contract

If you haven’t been given a contract, you should ask your employer what their rules are.

You could also speak to other colleagues to see what their situation is. If you’re being treated differently to your colleagues, you could raise the issue with your employer.

Bank holidays and annual leave

If you’re entitled to annual leave, then bank holidays will either be:

  • deducted from your annual leave allowance (so you’ll have to take all bank holidays as paid holiday)
  • counted as additional holiday days - you may or may not be paid for them

Your contract should say which situation applies to you. If it doesn’t, bank holidays will automatically be deducted from your annual leave entitlement.

Example

You work full-time and you're entitled to 28 days of statutory paid holiday a year. You don’t have a written contract of employment. You’ll have to take the 8 bank holidays out of your paid holiday entitlement. This means you’ll have 20 days left to take when you choose.

If you work part-time

If your work shuts on bank holidays and you normally work on those days, you’ll have to take them as paid holiday. Because you work part-time, you’ll be entitled to fewer statutory holiday days each year than if you were full-time. This will leave you fewer holiday days to take at a time of your choice.

Example

You work 1 day a week - Monday. You’re entitled to 5.6 days' annual leave each year.

There are 4 bank holidays that fall on a Monday each year, and your work shuts on these days. This means you have to use up 4 days of your annual leave on bank holidays. This leaves you with 1.6 days’ annual leave to take at a time of your choice.

If you worked on Tuesdays, there would be no bank holidays on the days you work. Therefore you’d be left with 5.6 days' annual leave to take at a time of your choice.

There’s no law to stop your employer from doing this, but you might be able to negotiate it. For example, you could ask them not to pay you on bank holidays and instead give you paid holiday on other days of your choice.

Trying to resolve an issue with your employer

Take the following steps

Step 1: speak to your employer

You could try having an informal chat with your employer (or HR department if they have one). Explain your concerns and try to resolve the issue.

Step 2: raise a grievance

Check if your employer has a formal grievance procedure you can use. Even if they haven’t, you can still raise a grievance - for example by writing a letter.

You could say something like:

“My contract states my rights regarding bank holiday working. You have breached these terms.”

Step 3: get advice

If your employer doesn’t respond, or they do but it’s not the response you wanted, you should contact your local Citizens Advice. They’ll be able to advise you on what to do next - for example, whether you can take your case to an employment tribunal.

If you visit a branch of Citizens Advice, make sure you take along:

  • your employment contract, if you have one
  • any correspondence you’ve had with your employer
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