Are employees entitled to time off for bank holidays in addition to the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks?

As a result of amendments to the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement increased from four to 5.6 weeks between October 2007 and April 2009. There is no automatic entitlement to take time off on bank holidays in addition to this, unless the terms of the employment contract provide otherwise.

Under s.1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers must give new employees a written statement of terms and conditions of employment. Under s.1(4)(d)(i) of the Act, the statement must contain terms relating to holiday entitlement, including bank holidays, and holiday pay.

Prior to the increase in holiday from four to 5.6 weeks, many employers worded contracts to the effect that employees were entitled to "statutory entitlement plus bank holidays". Previously, this wording would have granted an entitlement to 20 days' leave (for an employee working a five-day week) plus eight bank holidays. Following the increase, it denotes an entitlement to 28 days' leave plus eight bank holidays. Employers should check their organisation's employment contracts to determine whether or not this could be an issue.