Do You Have To Give Your Employees Time Off For Bank Holidays?

Many people look forward to bank holidays – particularly your employees.

Their busy, working week is cut short for a day or two – and they spend that precious time doing what they enjoy: being with family, carrying out a project around the house, or just spending time watching Netflix.

But what about you? How do you view bank holidays as a business owner?

The Tension Of Bank Holidays

It won’t be a surprise to hear that many business owners don’t enjoy bank holidays.

Each bank holiday is reported to cost the UK economy £2.3 billion – and around 44% of small business owners claim to work during them anyway, mainly catching up on emails.

Now… there’s an obvious tension here…

Bank holidays are something your employees look forward to, while on the other hand, four in ten business owners argue bank holidays have become irrelevant.

So, do you have to give your employees time off for bank holidays?


The Answer

The Direct Gov website says that bank holidays don’t have to be given as paid leave.

This means you could choose to close up shop and not pay your workers… however, this is hardly going to keep your staff happy on their day off. They’ll probably spend the day resenting you.

The other, more preferred option that employers have is to include bank holidays as part of their employee’s statutory annual leave.

This means that bank holidays are included in their holiday entitlements and when the business is closed, they have to take that day off: but are still paid.

Employers can also set specific dates when their workers must take their annual leave – for example, if your business is closed over the Christmas break, you can make your employees take annual leave across that period of time.

For the businesses that choose to stay open on bank holidays, their staff are, obviously, expected to work their normal hours – as we’ve seen: it’s entirely at the business owners discretion.

What’s The Best Solution?

Of course, the power seems to be heavily in favour of the employer – which means you’ll have to find the balance of keeping your staff happy with whatever decision you go with.

We wrote a recent blog on how to keep your staff happy here – but if you do want to keep your doors open this bank holiday, it may be worth allowing some of your staff to work from home, or find a way to rotate their shifts across the different bank holidays that your business is open for.

In conclusion: you don’t have to give your employees time off for bank holidays, but it’s always worth checking how you can make sure they are happy, enjoy working for you, and feel like a valued member of a team.

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