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workingmums.co.uk usually gets a lot of requests for advice at this time of year about bank holiday entitlement, particularly from part-time workers. Here we spell out your rights.
It’s fast approaching Christmas and while many will be focused on family time, others will be trying to understand their rights around annual leave. Workingmums.co.uk traditionally gets a lot of requests for advice at this time of year, particularly for people who work part time or on shifts.
One of the big issues is bank holiday entitlement for part-time workers.
Employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave. This is 28 days for someone who works full time. Bank and public holidays may be included in the minimum entitlement and there is no statutory right to be paid bank and public holidays on top of that entitlement. Under legislation on part-time workers, part-timers should not be treated less favourably than comparable full-timers.
“Allowing full-timers the day off, but not part-timers, is clearly less favourable treatment and unlawful,” says HR expert Anna Doherty. “To comply with the law, in some circumstances employers may give workers a paid day off if their day of work happens to coincide with the public holiday, without giving time off in lieu to those who would not ordinarily work on that day. This should produce a fair result where a shift system means that full-time and part-time workers are equally likely to be scheduled to work on a public holiday. However, where workers work fixed days each week, such a practice could put part-timers at a disadvantage. This is because most bank/public holidays fall on a Monday and those who do not work Mondays will be entitled to proportionately fewer days off. In many workplaces, these workers will predominantly be part-timers.”
To remove any disadvantage, she says a common approach is to give all workers a pro rata entitlement of days off in lieu according to the number of hours they work, with any bank holidays that fall on your normal days of work having to be ‘booked’ from their holiday entitlement.
Anna states: “There is no one “formula” for this, as long as employers are treating full-time and part-time employees consistently and fairly. Many employers will have a policy laid down for this or there may be a reference to it in your contract of employment.”
If you work for an employer which offers more than the 28 days for full-time workers the pro-rata rule still applies so if you work three days a week and full-timers work five you would get three fifths of whatever full timers get, including bank holidays. If you work shorter or longer than average days you will need to work out your entitlement in terms of hours worked. This website allows you to calculate your entitlement, but is based on full timers getting the statutory minimum of 28 days.
You begin to accrue your allowance from the first day of employment. Some employers have a set leave year, for example, April to March, so if an employee starts work mid-way through the leave year, the initial holiday entitlement is based on the period from that date until the leave year ends.
If you work other patterns, such as shift working, term time working or compressed hours you can find more information on how to work out your annual leave here as well as information about carrying leave over and holiday pay.
Holiday entitlement cannot suddenly be reduced if it is written into your contract without consultation with you and your consent. If an employer seeks to impose any changes to your terms and conditions then you potentially have a breach of contract claim. You may also have an unlawful deduction of wages claim if the likely result of this is a change/reduction in pay.
Employers can make you redundant, following a fair redundancy procedure, and seek to rehire you on the reduced entitlement, but they could risk an unfair dismissal if you have worked for them for over two years and a breach of contract claim.