Can employees be required to work on bank holidays?
There is no statutory right for employees to take bank holidays off work. Any right to time off, payment for time off or extra pay for bank holidays worked depends on the terms of the employee's contract of employment. Therefore, subject to the terms of the contract, employees can be required to work on bank holidays.
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. In the absence of a written statement, or written contract of employment, the rights relating to time off for bank holidays will depend either on what has been verbally agreed or on custom and practice. For example, if employees have been given paid time off for bank holidays in the past, it is likely that this will have become a contractual entitlement. Any unilateral changes could constitute a fundamental breach of contract, enabling the employees to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal if they have been employed for at least two years. Any employees who do not meet the qualifying service requirement can claim breach of contract, as there is no service requirement for such a claim.