For businesses that operate an annual leave year that runs from 1st April to 31st March 2016, this article is a must read.
I would like to start by highlighting the Easter Bank Holidays that fall in the leave years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017:-
- Good Friday – 3rd April 2015
- Easter Monday – 6th April 2015
- Good Friday – 25th March 2016
- Easter Monday – 28th March 2016
2016 – 2017
- Good Friday – 14th March 2017
- Easter Monday – 17th March 2017
With this is mind, if you operate the financial year as your leave year and your contracts are worded to state that employees will receive “20 days plus Bank Holidays” as part of their annual leave entitlement, then employees are on course to benefit from two Easter Bank Holiday weekends in one annual leave year, thereby gaining from two additional Bank Holidays in addition to the normal 8.
My advice to employers is to plan ahead and check your employee’s contracts to see how the annual leave clauses are worded which will determine if you are legally obliged to provide your employees with the two additional days’ leave. It might also be worth taking advice on how to get the wording of your contracts legally amended if necessary to avoid situations like this in the future, and also where additional Bank Holidays are announced (e.g. the Queen’s Jubilee and the Royal wedding). Should you fail to honour your contractual obligations, then employers will be opening the floodgates for potential breach of contract claims.
The legal minimum that an employer should provide to an employee in terms of annual leave, is 28 days annual leave for an employee that works 5 days per week and this can be inclusive of Bank Holidays. As there are usually 8 Bank Holidays per year, employers have historically worded their contracts that state “20 days plus Bank Holidays” to ensure that they comply with the statutory entitlements.
This not only causes problems in situations as I have highlighted above, but also in situations where there are less than 8 Bank Holidays in an annual leave year, which will be the case for the annual leave year 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017, during which only 6 Bank Holidays will fall. This would mean that employers would only be providing their employees with 26 days’ annual leave, leaving them in a position whereby they will have to top up their employee’s entitlements by 2 days to ensure that the legal minimum annual leave entitlement is provided.