If an employer provides for pro rata bank holiday entitlement for part-time employees, how should it calculate this?

Because most bank holidays fall on a Monday or Friday, part-time employees who do not work on these days could be entitled to proportionately fewer days off compared with full-time employees, depending on shift patterns and annual leave arrangements within the organisation.

Employers must ensure that all employees have at least the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement and that part-time employees are not treated less favourably than full-time employees. To avoid a complaint of less favourable treatment under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551) many employers provide part-time employees with a pro rated bank holiday entitlement.

While there may be no arrangement that will have entirely fair results for all employees whatever their working pattern, one option is to calculate pro rated bank holiday entitlement according to the number of hours that the part-time employee works, irrespective of whether or not he or she works on the days on which bank holidays fall.

For example, if full-time employees are entitled to eight bank holidays a year, in addition to their normal annual leave entitlement, a full-time employee working a five-day week of 37.5 hours would be entitled to 60 hours of leave on bank holidays (ie eight days of seven and a half hours). A part-time employee working a three-day week of 22.5 hours would be entitled to a pro rated bank holiday allowance of 36 hours (22.5 ÷ 37.5 x 60). Calculating an hourly entitlement has the disadvantage of potentially resulting in an employee working for, for example, only one or two hours on a particular day.

The employer should allow the part-time employee to book the 36 hours' pro rated bank holiday entitlement as annual leave under the organisation's normal procedure. If the employee is scheduled to work on any bank holiday, he or she would have to book this as annual leave to take the day off. If the business is closed on bank holidays, the employer could require the employee to take annual leave if he or she is scheduled to work on these days, by including this in the employee's contract or giving the appropriate notice.