Are part-time workers entitled to bank holidays?

Under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551) a part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker on the grounds that he or she is a part-timer. This includes entitlement to bank holidays.

Where an employer includes bank holidays in the statutory minimum entitlement to paid holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1998 this is unlikely to cause problems. However, where full-time workers are entitled to bank holidays in addition to their statutory entitlement to holiday, difficulties may arise.

It may be fair to allow part-time workers to take a bank holiday where their day of work coincides with a bank holiday, particularly if a shift system means that both full-timers and part-timers are equally likely to be rostered to work on a bank holiday. However, where workers work fixed days each week, part-timers could be disadvantaged by such a practice. As most bank holidays fall on a Monday or a Friday, those part-timers who never work on these days will be entitled to proportionately fewer days off than full-timers who regularly work on these days. In these circumstances the disadvantage could be removed by giving all part-timers pro rata entitlement to time off in lieu of bank holidays according to the number of hours they work. However, the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 provide protection only where any less favourable treatment is on the grounds that the worker is part time. In McMenemy v Capita Business Services Ltd [2007] IRLR 400 CS, an employee who worked Wednesday to Friday claimed that his lack of entitlement to time off in lieu of Monday bank holidays amounted to less favourable treatment, but the Court of Session held that the cause of the difference in treatment was the fact that the employee did not work on Mondays, not that he was part time.