Working on a bank holiday - what are your rights?

Emma Woollacott
Stressed businesswoman holding disposable cup looking at camera in her office
Stressed businesswoman holding disposable cup looking at camera in her office

As you sit back and stuff your face with chocolate this Easter weekend, spare a thought for all the people still at work.

A survey last year from personal credit company Provident found that three in ten people planned to work on the spring bank holiday, with 60% not even expecting to get paid.

Many people are confused about whether or not they're obliged to work on a bank holiday or not - and how it works in practice for part-time staff or those who are sick.

We look at your bank holiday employment rights.

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Can my employer make me work on a bank holiday?
The short answer is yes - depending on your contract of employment. Many people have the right to take bank holidays off written in. If you don't, like many retail workers, for example, then your employer can expect you to work as usual.

Do bank holidays count as annual leave?
Again, this depends on your contract. The days may be deducted from your annual leave, or be given as an extra - in which case you may or may not be paid for them.

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Am I entitled to extra pay?
Employers will often offer double pay for working on bank holidays, but they don't have to, unless it's in your contract. If, though, it's become the norm to offer extra pay, then it may be deemed to have become 'custom and practice'. This means you'd have a good case for the extra pay.

What if I work part time?
If your work shuts on bank holidays and you normally work on those days, you'll have to take them as paid holiday. You're entitled to the number of days you work per week x 5.6.

How much work are you doing for free?

What if I don't work Mondays?
If you're only getting the legal minimum of annual leave, it makes no difference which days of the week you usually work. You'll still be entitled to the number of days you work per week x 5.6, and can simply take them at other times. If you're getting more paid leave than the minimum, though, it's possible that you could miss out - again, it depends on your contract.

What if I'm sick on a bank holiday?
This depends on whether or not the bank holiday forms part of your statutory holiday entitlement - you'll need to check your contract. If it does, you have the right to take time off in lieu. If, though, you get paid bank holidays on top of your annual leave entitlement, then things are a little more murky. It may be set out in your contract; or it may have become 'custom and practice' - in which case you could have a case.