Are employers required to provide pay or time off in lieu of bank holidays that coincide with maternity leave?

An employee's entitlement regarding bank holidays during their maternity leave will depend on the terms of their contract and whether or not bank holidays form part of their statutory minimum annual leave entitlement. There is no automatic right to paid leave on bank holidays, but this is often a contractual entitlement.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) all employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks' statutory paid annual leave. Where an employee is entitled to the statutory minimum including bank holidays, following Merino Gómez v Continental Industrias del Caucho SA [2004] IRLR 407 ECJ, in which the European Court of Justice ruled that an employer cannot insist that an employee take their statutory annual leave at the same time as their maternity leave, the employee is entitled to take paid days off in lieu of any bank holidays that fall within their maternity leave.

Where the employee is entitled to paid time off on bank holidays under their contract (including under terms implied by custom and practice), in addition to the statutory minimum entitlement, the terms of the contract may set out whether or not they are entitled to pay or time off in lieu of bank holidays that coincide with maternity leave. However, there is some uncertainty over whether or not the principles in Gómez extend to contractual holiday entitlement in excess of the statutory minimum. Employers may therefore decide to provide pay or time off in lieu of all bank holidays coinciding with maternity leave that the employee would otherwise have been entitled to take under their contract.