The most common bank holiday myths debunked…

Get clued up on the real bank holiday laws. Read our complete guide now.

BrightHR Team

Your staff always try to school you on bank holiday laws, don’t they?

They say it’s illegal to make employees work a public holiday, or that you should pay them double time for coming in—and you never know what to tell them. Well, that stops here…

Get the truth behind some of the most common bank holiday myths to set your staff straight.

“It’s illegal to make me work on a bank holiday”

Not true. There’s no law that says staff shouldn’t work bank holidays.

So if your business is open, you’re well within your rights to ask staff to come in. Just make sure to say so in your annual leave policy.

Don’t forget, either, that if your employee works a bank holiday, you may owe them a day off in lieu depending on their holiday entitlement. But more on that later…

“You have to pay me time-and-a-half”

Wrong again. Many employers choose to pay staff more money to work a bank holiday, but you don’t have to.

And if you do decide to bump up their pay, it’s up to you whether you opt for time-and-a-half, double time or more.

Just remember to say in your policy how much you pay staff.

“We should get 28 days’ leave PLUS bank holidays off” 

Well, that’s up to you.

28 days’ holiday is the minimum annual leave entitlement for full-time staff. You can choose to include bank holidays within this allowance, or add it on top.

The number of bank holidays you get depends on where your business is. England and Wales get eight bank holidays, Scotland gets nine, and Northern Ireland gets ten (lucky them).

So, if you decide to include bank holidays in your annual leave entitlements, your employees will get a minimum of 20 days’ annual leave and eight bank holidays (if you run a business in England or Wales). In this case, staff would be entitled to time off in lieu for working a bank holiday.

But if you give bank holidays on top of annual leave, your staff will get a generous 36 days off work (28 days’ annual leave plus eight bank holidays).

Whatever you decide, put it in your policy.

“I’m part-time, so I don’t get bank holidays”

Nope, this one’s false too. Your part-time staff get the same bank holiday entitlement as your full-time staff—even if they don’t work on the days when bank holidays fall. Why?

Because part-time staff have the right to be treated the same as full-time staff, and that includes their entitlement to bank holidays.

You just need to do a bit of maths to work out their entitlement based on the hours they work (known as a pro rata calculation).

It’s hard to get your head around it, but if a full-time employee gets eight bank holidays per year, an employee who works a three-day week gets a pro rata bank holiday allowance of 36 hours a year.

Not a great mathematician? No problem. Our legal experts are ready to work out your part-time holiday entitlements for you. Just call 0800 783 2806.