Understanding how bank holidays work in the context of holiday entitlement, and your employee’s right to paid time off, is important when it comes to keeping your workforce happy.
The following guide for employers looks at the bank holiday rules for 2023, including the extra bank holiday scheduled across the UK for King Charles’ coronation.
UK bank holiday rules
Almost all individuals classed as workers, including part-time workers, are entitled by law to a certain number of days off work every year by way of paid leave. The minimum statutory annual leave entitlement is set at 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, although this is pro-rated for anyone working on a part-time basis. For the full-time employee working 5 fixed days per week, this equates to a total of 28 days. In contrast, for the part-time employee working 3.5 days per week, their statutory leave entitlement equates to 19.6 days per year, although this can be rounded up by the employer as a gesture of goodwill.
Some employee’s may have enhanced holiday rights under the terms and conditions of their contract of employment. This is because an employer can choose to offer more paid annual leave than the legal minimum, although they cannot offer less than this amount, not even by way of rounding down. However, as a matter of law, bank holidays do not have to be given by an employer as additional paid leave. This means that the employer can include these days as part of an individual’s statutory leave entitlement, rather than adding these on top. As such, if a business closes over the various bank holidays, the employer can require their staff to take these days off as part of their annual holiday allowance.
For example, where the employment contract makes provision for 28 days’ paid leave “including bank holidays”, this is the total number of days that the employee will be entitled to take each year. In England and Wales, where a standard leave year includes 8 bank holidays, the employee working for a business that closes on these days would be left with 20 days’ paid leave to take at a time of their own choosing. In contrast, if the contract makes provision for 28 days’ paid leave “plus bank holidays”, the employee will be contractually entitled to take these days as additional paid leave. During a standard leave year, the employee would therefore be entitled to a total of 36 days’ paid leave.
For any business staying open on bank holidays, it will again be a matter of prior contractual agreement as to whether they will be required to work those days. In brief, the rules relating to an individual’s entitlement not to work on bank holidays, where applicable, and whether bank holidays are included in or excluded from their overall paid holiday days, comes down to the wording of each person’s contract. In some cases, the contract may provide that bank holidays are inclusive of the employee’s normal holiday entitlement, whereas in others, these may be extra. Alternatively, the employer may have a policy to allow staff to take bank holidays as extra holiday but without pay or for time off in lieu.
If the contract of employment states nothing whatsoever in relation to bank holidays, or is entirely silent on the issue of holiday entitlement in general, the employee will still be legally entitled to the statutory minimum amount of paid leave. However, the presumption here will be that bank holidays will be deducted from that annual allowance.
Extra bank holiday in 2023
King Charles III’s coronation is set to take place at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday 6 May 2023. However, to mark this occasion, the nation has been granted an extra bank holiday two days following the coronation, to take place on Monday 8 May 2023. This extra bank holiday is in addition to the standard bank holidays the nation enjoys each year, including both the early May and late May bank holidays.
Where an additional bank holiday is granted, this does not necessarily mean that staff have an automatic right to take this as a paid days leave. As with any bank holiday entitlement, either inclusive of or in addition to an individual’s annual leave entitlement, this will all depend on what contractual provision has been made for a member of staff in this respect.
It is only where the contract of employment provides that an employee is entitled to paid bank holidays in addition to their normal annual leave, that they will be entitled to take off Monday 8 May 2023 and to be paid for this. In contrast, if an employee’s annual leave includes bank holidays, this extra holiday will have to be deducted from their annual allowance. For the full-time employee entitled to the extra bank holiday, they will have a total of 37 days’ paid leave for 2023. Conversely, for the employee whose paid leave days include bank holidays, this will leave them with just 19 days leave to take during the year.
Importantly, for employment contracts that express an entitlement to bank holidays as “plus 8 bank holidays per year” or, alternatively, makes provision for specified bank holidays in addition to an employee’s normal annual leave entitlement, such as “plus Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday etc”, these employee’s are unlikely to be contractually entitled to an additional paid days leave for King Charles’ coronation. In these types of cases, much may come down to the precise wording and construction of the contract.
When are the bank holidays scheduled for 2023?
In England and Wales, there are usually 8 bank holidays a year including: New Year’s day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the early May bank holiday, the late May bank holiday, the August bank holiday, Christmas day and Boxing day. In Scotland, there are 9 bank holidays, with an additional holiday on 2 January and one to mark St. Andrew’s day, but none on Easter Monday. In Northern Ireland, bank holidays are the same as for England and Wales, plus St. Patrick’s day and the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, so 10 in total.
However, as with last year, when the nation benefitted from two extra bank holidays — one to mark Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee on Friday 3 June 2022 and one for the Queen’s state funeral on Monday 19 September 2022 — another bank holiday has been introduced this year to help celebrate the coronation of King Charles III.
The key bank holiday dates for 2023 across the UK are therefore as follows:
- Monday 2 January 2023: substitute day for New Year’s day (nationwide)
- Monday 2 January 2023: substitute for Hogmanay (Scotland only)
- Tuesday 3 January 2023: substitute day for 2 January (Scotland only)
- Friday 17 March 2023: St Patrick’s day (Northern Ireland only)
- Friday 7 April 2023: Good Friday (nationwide)
- Monday 10 April 2023: Easter Monday (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
- Monday 1 May 2023: early May bank holiday (nationwide)
- Monday 8 May 2023: bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III
- Monday 29 May 2023: late May bank holiday (nationwide)
- Wednesday 12 July 2023: Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)
- Monday 7 August 2023: August bank holiday (Scotland only)
- Monday 28 August 2023: August bank holiday (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
- Thursday 30 November 2023: St. Andrew’s day (Scotland only)
- Monday 25 December 2023: Christmas day (nationwide)
- Tuesday 26 December 2023: Boxing day (nationwide).
If a bank holiday falls on a weekend, as New Year’s day did this year, a substitute weekday will become a bank holiday, typically the following Monday, where the substitute New Year’s day bank holiday was on Monday 2 January 2023. UK employers should also note that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Summer bank holiday falls on the last Monday of August 2023, whereas in Scotland it falls on the first Monday of that month.
What does the extra 2023 bank holiday mean for employers & managers?
When it comes to the extra bank holiday this year, employers will need to decide how to approach this well in advance. First, they must be clear on whether or not their staff are entitled to take this day as an extra days paid leave, on top of their normal annual leave entitlement. If not, the employer may want to consider whether, as a gesture of goodwill, they will allow employee’s to take this day in any event, either paid or unpaid. For the employer looking to maintain positive working relations with their staff, not to mention creating a good work-life balance to help increase employee engagement, this type of gesture can go a long way to keeping staff healthy and ensuring their emotional wellbeing.
Where the business is due to close on the extra bank holiday, and the employer has decided not to provide staff with an additional day of paid leave, notice should be given as soon as possible so that staff can save a day of their annual entitlement to cover this closure.
Employers will also need to decide how to deal with any scenario where an employee has already booked or used their annual leave entitlement for the year by this stage. In these circumstances, employers should be thinking very carefully about employee’s expectations and how any decision not to let them take an extra paid days’ leave may affect working relations. The employer may also want to take into account what they have done previously in relation to the two extra bank holidays that took place during 2022.
Finally, where the business is to remain open on the extra bank holiday, the employer will need to carefully consider how any requests to book annual leave on this day should be dealt with. Even though an employee has a right to a minimum number of paid days’ leave each year, they are not normally entitled to pick and choose when they take this time off, where employers need to manage staff rotas to ensure that they have the adequate cover.
Still, any failure on the part of the employer to ensure a fair and consistent approach to leave requests around the extra bank holiday has real potential to cause disputes at work, so measures need to be taken to keep any conflict to a minimum. As such, the following tips can be used to help employers effectively manage the upcoming bank holiday:
Where the business is to remain open on Monday 8 May 2023, employers should be prepared for an influx of leave requests. Some staff may be keen to make the most of how two bank holidays fall closely together, booking just over a full week to cover both the early May bank holiday and the extra bank holiday the following Monday. If it is unlikely that the employer will be able to accommodate every request, a policy will need to be put in place and communicated now, so that staff have time to state their case.
Decide on a fair approach where, for example, dealing with requests for the extra bank holiday on a first-come first-served basis may not be the best solution. Employers should also try to avoid any arbitrary approach based solely on managerial discretion, as any refusal of a leave request could easily be misinterpreted as discriminatory.
Where a request for leave, either paid or unpaid, is rejected by the employer, they should provide the employee with clear and cogent reasons for this. A straight rejection, without any justification, is highly likely to cause conflict. In contrast, a rejection, coupled with a rational and reasonable explanation from the employer, may be enough to keep tensions to an absolute minimum and to prevent any formal grievances from being lodged.
Remind staff of their existing entitlement to paid leave and explain how this works in the context of the extra bank holiday to avoid any confusion, making it clear whether or not staff will be entitled to an additional days’ paid leave on 8 May 2023 or time off in lieu. For those employees who will not be entitled to an additional day, they should not merely be referred back to their contracts of employment, but provided with an explanation as to why the employer has decided not to grant the extra bank holiday.
DavidsonMorris’ HR and employment law specialists work with employers to support with compliant and effective workforce management, including advice on the impact of bank holidays on holiday entitlement and handling annual leave requests. Contact us for specialist advice.
Extra bank holiday rules FAQs
Do we get extra bank holiday in 2023?
To mark the King’s coronation on Saturday 6 May 2023, an extra bank holiday will take place on Monday 8 May 2023. However, whether you will be entitled to an extra paid days leave will depend on your employment contract.
Do employers have to give the extra bank holiday?
An employer is not legally obligated to give staff the extra bank holiday as a paid days leave in addition to normal holiday entitlement, not unless their employment contract makes provision for bank holidays in addition to the statutory minimum.
Do employers have to pay extra for bank holidays UK?
By law, employers do not have to give their employees bank holidays as additional paid leave on top of their normal annual leave entitlement. However, an employee’s entitlement to paid leave will depend on the wording of their employment contract.
Last updated: 13 April 2023