Easter Bank Holidays

Some employees are set to suffer a breach of their annual leave rights as a result of the way that Easter Bank Holidays fall in 2015 and 2016.

The wording in some employees’ contracts may result in an unanticipated shortfall in their holiday entitlement, for which their employer will be liable, as a result of variations in Easter dates.

The issue will affect businesses that operate an annual leave year that runs from 1 April to 31 March, and that set out their employees paid annual leave entitlement using wording along the lines of “20 days’ holiday plus bank holidays”.

What’s Happening To The Easter Bank Holiday?

  • In 2015 Good Friday and Easter Monday fall on 3 and 6 April
  • In 2016 they will be on 25 and 28 March
  • in 2017 they fall on 14 and 17 April.

This means if your holiday year runs from April to March, you will have two sets of Easter Bank Holidays fall within the 2015-16 holiday year.

Implications

For the holiday year April 2015 to March 2016, there will be ten Bank Holidays. Then in the following leave year there will only be six Bank Holidays.

You cannot rely on a bonus in holiday entitlement from one leave year to be ‘evened up’ by giving employees less than the statutory minimum in the next leave year.

The working time Regulations provide for an entitlement of 5.6 weeks annual leave which equates to 28 days for an employee working a 5-day week. The entitlement is a statutory minimum which cannot be negotiated out of. Your contract of employment will probably describe the annual entitlement for a full-time employee in one of the following ways:

  • 20 days plus Bank Holidays
  • 20 days plus 8 Bank Holidays
  • 20 days plus the following Bank Holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
  • 5.6 weeks inclusive of Bank Holidays

My Top Tips

20 days plus Bank Holidays

This could be interpreted as a contractual right to all Bank Holidays, regardless of how many there are in a year but caution should be applied with the 2016-17 leave year as reducing the annual entitlement to 26 days would not comply with the minimum statutory entitlement of 28 days.

My advice in this situation is as follows:

  • 2015-16 Leave Year – increase the annual entitlement for full time employees to 30 days to accommodate the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays and pro rata that for part time employees.
  • 2016-17 Leave Year – top up the Bank Holidays by 2 days and either allow employees to take them at a time of their choosing or stipulate the dates when they must be taken. Remember to pro rata the 2 days for part time employees.

20 days plus 8 Bank Holidays

This clause stipulates that a specific number of Bank Holidays are part of the annual leave entitlement and therefore there is no contractual right to the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays but as in the previous situation caution should be applied with the entitlement for the 2016-17 leave year.

My advice in this situation is as follows:

  • 2015-16 Leave Year – notify employees that they will need to reserve two days from the annual leave entitlement for the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays.
  • 2016-17 Leave Year – top up the Bank Holidays by 2 days and either allow employees to take them at a time of their choosing or stipulate a date when they must be taken.

20 days plus the following Bank Holidays …..

This clause stipulates that specifically named Bank Holidays are part of the annual leave entitlement and therefore there is a contractual entitlement to the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays. As in the previous situations caution should be applied with the entitlement for the 2016-17 leave year.

My advice in this situation is as follows:

  • 2015-16 Leave Year – increase the annual entitlement for full time employees to 30 days to accommodate the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays and pro rata that for part time employees.
  • 2016-17 Leave Year – top up the Bank Holidays by 2 days and either allow employees to take them at a time of their choosing or stipulate a date when they must be taken.

5.6 weeks inclusive of Bank Holidays

This clause stipulates that Bank Holidays, regardless of the number, are part of the annual leave entitlement and therefore there is no contractual entitlement to any days that take the total entitlement beyond 5.6 weeks. As in the previous situations caution should be applied with the entitlement for the 2016-17 leave year.

My advice in this situation is as follows:

  • 2015-16 Leave Year – notify employees that they will need to reserve two days from the annual leave entitlement for the 2016 Easter Bank Holidays.
  • 2016-17 Leave Year – top up the Bank Holidays by 2 days and either allow employees to take them at a time of their choosing or stipulate a date when they must be taken.

Change Your Leave Year

If you do not wish to Top Up your entitlement as described above you can change your holiday year from April to March to January to December. That way you always get one Easter in a leave year regardless of the exact date.

Changing employees’ contracts is a delicate process that should be planned and navigated very carefully; something I can help you with.

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The Holiday Entitlement folder contains a range of guidance and resources to help you manage employees holiday entitlement. I also provide a model policy and a template holiday request form and a range of How to Guides that deal with unusual situations such as when an employee who goes ahead with a holiday when annual leave has not been authorised.

Easter Bank Holidays

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