What Does Your Organisation Think of the TUC’s Call for Extra Bank Holidays?

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) is calling for four new bank holidays to be created to give employees in England and Wales more time off as many countries have a greater number of bank holidays. The TUC wishes to start a public conversation about when these would be and to make sure that no workers miss out, the union body wants the extra bank holidays to be reflected in statutory holiday entitlement, and any workers required to work on bank holidays being giving a right to a pay premium or time off in lieu.

Whilst there has not been any indication from the government that it is willing to create additional permanent bank holidays, the publicity around the TUC’s calls may have got some employers thinking about holidays in their organisation, including for some, whether they may wish to start offering extra holiday above the statutory minimum. If this is the case in your organisation, we take a look below at some of the things it can be helpful to think about.

Three Key Considerations

1. What would the benefits be?

There are many reasons employers may be considering increasing the amount of holiday they offer in their organisation, such as to help attract new recruits in a competitive market, aid in the retention of existing employees or to reward loyalty. Identifying what your organisation wishes to achieve by offering extra holiday will help to identify key factors, such as how much holiday to offer as well as any practical considerations that may need to be addressed.

2. How much ‘extra’ holiday to offer?

The statutory minimum holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks per holiday year – this equates to 28 days holiday for a full time worker who works five days per week (information about bank holiday entitlement can be found in an earlier Legal Update here and answers to some general practical holiday matters can be found here.

If you wish to offer holiday above the statutory minimum, it will come down to what you consider to be appropriate for your organisation. Factors which are helpful to consider include:

  • How much extra holiday could be easily managed in the organisation and in individual departments, taking into account any minimum staffing numbers required
  • There may be some situations where employees have a right to carry-over untaken statutory minimum holiday entitlement, such as when someone has been on maternity leave. Therefore, it is important to ensure that such eventualities are factored in when considering how much extra holiday would be workable for the organisation
  • Whether the extra holiday would be a permanent arrangement or a shorter-term measure, for example an extra weeks holiday for one holiday year only as a thank you to employees for their hard work during a difficult period
  • Whether there are issues with employees needing to be reminded to use their existing holiday entitlement or concerns about large amounts of leave not being booked until the latter part of the year. This could impact on the amount of extra leave the organisation would wish to consider allowing or the need to consider measures that could be put in place to reduce the likelihood of such a situation occurring in future
  • The extra cost(s) involved for the organisation

3. What are some of the practicalities?

Whilst each organisation will have their own practicalities to consider, some of those that are likely to be common to many include:

  • Changes to contracts / holiday policies / forms, including a consideration of whether more holiday means that more notice would be required when it comes to employees making holiday requests to help with planning and ensuring it can all be fitted in
  • Whether employees would generally be permitted to carry-over the extra holidays into the following holiday year (without there being ‘special circumstances’)
  • Whether the organisation would consider paying in lieu for the extra holiday during employment should employees not wish to take it (for information regarding statutory minimum holiday entitlement and payment in lieu please see our previous Legal Update here. Remember, it is important to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and appropriately when it comes to holidays and holiday pay.

Remember, it is important to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and appropriately when it comes to holidays and holiday pay.

If you are considering offering extra holiday in your organisation, please contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for advice on your situation before taking action. If you have any employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.