It’s that time of year where employers start questioning the rules around their Christmas closedown and employee holidays so here are a reminder of some of the basic rules around this, in FAQ format:

Do I have to pay my employees for bank holidays or the period in between Christmas and new year?  

Employees have no legal right to paid time off on a bank holiday or during a Christmas closure, unless stated in their employment contract or a company policy. 

We are closed on bank holidays and over the Christmas period, can I make employees take holiday? 

Employers can dictate that employees take paid time off on bank holidays or during a Christmas closedown, even if this is not written in the contract. To do this, employers must give twice as much notice as the length of the time off that is requested. For example, if an employee is required to take five days off, you must give 10 days’ notice.

TOP TIP: it’s best practice to have it written into a contract or policy if your business closes every Christmas!

The bank holiday falls on a non-working day, what should I do? 

If all 8 bank holidays are included in the annual leave entitlement, you must pay employees for the bank holiday day or give them that day back in lieu, to take at another time. If they are not, there is no obligation to pay for a bank holiday. 

How do I know if bank holidays are included in the annual leave entitlement?  

Bank holidays as annual leave are not a statutory entitlement. Therefore, unless you have a contract or policy that states that they are included, they are not.

Which days over Christmas are bank holidays?

The bank holidays over the Christmas period are Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Day.   

Do part time employees use bank holidays as leave? 

This will again depend what your contract states. Part time employees are entitled to bank holidays the same as their full-time equivalents, although their holiday entitlement will be a prorated amount. 

Do I have to close on Christmas Day?

 No, it is the businesses decision which days, if any, to close over the Christmas period.

 Are workers entitled to holiday pay over Christmas, or just employees. 

Workers (e.g. agency workers, 0-hour contract workers) are entitled to paid holiday leave based on the hours they work. 

If my employee hasn’t taken all of their holidays by the end of the leave year, do I have to pay them for it?  

No. Any statutory entitlement should not be paid in lieu of annual leave or carried into the following leave year. Employees should be encouraged to take their rest periods. There are slight exemptions to this rule due to Covid as businesses are temporarily able to allow employees to carry holiday over. 2021 will be the last year this is allowed. 

My employee has been absent all year through sickness, we include bank holidays in our holiday entitlement – do I still have to pay them bank holidays? 

Employees who are on sick leave continue to accrue holiday. If they are receiving SSP, it may be an idea to ask if they would like to be paid their holiday or continue to receive SSP (paid holiday will break the absence, meaning the employee may need to have the 3 unpaid waiting days before continuing SSP).   

My employee has been on maternity leave all year, we include bank holidays in our holiday entitlement do I still have to pay her bank holidays? 

Employees who are on maternity leave continue to accrue holiday whilst on maternity leave. However, they cannot receive holiday pay whilst on maternity leave. It must therefore be added to their entitlement when their maternity leave ends.