As the bank holiday season rapidly approaches and the supermarket shelves fill with Easter eggs, some of you may be wondering why you are expected to work and miss out on a long weekend. It is a common misconception that your employee rights can exclude you from working bank holidays.

Bank holidays and public holidays are enshrined in most countries law and the majority of the UK has eight bank holidays each year; New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Late Summer, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Bank holidays give you the opportunity to unwind, relieve any workplace stress we may have and spend quality time with our your loved ones. A long weekend is also the perfect chance for you to plan a short holiday and rejuvenate yourself.

However, before you start looking up flights for your next city break, you might want to check whether you actually have the time off work.

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Is It My Employee Right To Have Bank Holidays Off Work?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays and public holidays off work; instead it depends on your job sector, employer and particularly, the contract that is in place.

In some job sectors such as emergency services and hospitality, the employees work every bank holiday as normal. Other sectors, including retail, are now choosing to open during bank holidays, meaning employees will be expected to work.

For the majority of business, it is common practice to allow employees time off for bank holidays and public holidays. It is possible that your company allows time off for bank holidays.

Always Check Your Contract Of Employment

If you have a written employment contract, it should outline the company’s procedure for working bank holidays. A contract will also answer any questions you may have about your employee rights. This can usually be found in the Holidays or Annual Leave section of the contract.

Your employee contract may say that bank holidays are included in your annual holiday entitlement. This means you will have to book any bank holidays off and take them as part of your annual leave. Alternatively, your employee contract may say that you are entitled to bank holidays in addition to your annual leave.

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If bank holidays are not mentioned in your employee contract, it is important to ask your employer what the normal procedure is. If you do not have a written employee contract, time off for bank holidays will depend on what has been verbally agreed.

If your employer does not follow what is written in your contract, it is your employee right to raise the issue with them. Similarly, if your contract states that you’re required to work bank holidays, you can’t refuse work for any reason including religion. Doing so may result in disciplinary action.

Am I Entitled To Extra Pay For Working Bank Holidays?

Extra pay will depend entirely on the written or verbal contract that is in place as there is no statutory right to extra pay. Some employers offer overtime pay which may be ‘time and half’ or double pay for employees working on bank holidays. However, many employers do not offer extra pay.

If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to extra pay, it is best to check your contract of employment or speak to your employer.

Are My Employee Rights Different If I Work Part Time?

Your employee rights can be even more confusing when you work part time. It is your employee right to not be treated less favourably as full-time employees are entitled to fewer statutory holidays each year which means you will have fewer holiday days to take at the time of your choice.

When your working day falls on a bank holiday and your company shut’s, you will have to take the bank holiday as annual leave. If you do not want to take bank holidays as annual leave, perhaps talk to your employer and negotiate you working days.

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In the instance that full-time workers are entitled to bank holidays in addition to their statutory entitlement to holiday, it is common for employers to allow part-time employees to take a bank holiday where their day of work coincides with a bank holiday.

Always be sure to check your employee contract if you are unsure of your company’s practice surrounding bank holidays and public holidays.

Get In Touch

If you want to find out more about understanding your employee rights, simply contact Wellspace today. You can email us on or give us a call on 0808 178 0748.

Wellspace are the leading experts in workplace wellness and are aiming to revolutionise employee health and well being in the workplace. So, we can help you begin your journey towards a healthy work life.