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Top tips to help employers manage holiday leave

Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer - Employment Hero

Whether your employees are going abroad, or enjoying some downtime at home, it is important that employers understand their obligations when it comes to managing leave, upcoming public holidays, and more.

What is annual leave?
Annual leave, known legally as statutory leave entitlement, is the number of days off work that employees are entitled to.

Here in the UK, almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year which is the equivalent of 28 days. An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.

If an employee is working part-time, they are also entitled to at least 5.6 weeks paid holiday, but this will amount to fewer than 28 days.

What are bank holidays?
Public holidays, otherwise known as bank holidays, were first introduced in 1871 under the Bank Holiday Bill by Sir John Lubbock.

The name bank holiday came about as it was initially just for banks and financial buildings, but in time more businesses, schools and the government joined in.

How do bank holidays work?
Bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave and an employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave.

In England and Wales, there are a total of eight bank holidays. This then varies between Scotland where there are nine, and Northern Ireland which have 10.

If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, which normally takes place the following Monday.

Which bank holidays do we have left in 2022?

  • Monday 29 August Summer bank holiday

  • Monday 26 December Boxing Day

  • Tuesday 27 December Christmas Day (substitute day)

What are the 2023 bank holidays?

  • Monday 2 January New Year’s Day (substitute day)

  • Friday 7 April Good Friday

  • Monday 10 April Easter Monday

  • Monday 1 May Early May Bank Holiday

  • Monday 29 May Spring bank holiday

  • Monday 28 August Summer bank holiday

  • Tuesday 26 December Boxing Day

  • Monday 25 December Christmas Day

Are we all entitled to bank holidays?
Although bank holidays are widely taken in the UK, it is up to the business owner to decide whether employees must work on bank holidays. It is best to clarify with your employee within their contract, whether the bank holiday will either be:

  • Deducted from their annual leave allowance (so they take bank holidays as paid holiday).

  • Counted as additional holiday days (where they may or may not be paid for them).

Tips for managing leave requests
Managing leave can be tricky, especially if members of your team may want to take similar dates off. With many often-booking annual leave alongside bank holiday dates to make the most of it, especially around the Easter period you may want to consider having a system in place to ensure that there is clarity between team members.

To do so, make sure that you have processes in place to ensure clear communication with the team. Anyone managing the leave process should be aware of:

  • Whether or not those who are off are reachable for emergencies.

  • Clearly state what emergencies mean– it should not involve quick questions that can wait for when they are back.

  • Making sure there is a smooth handover in place so that things that they are usually accountable for do not go amiss.

  • Making sure that anyone picking up tasks has a clear point of contact should questions arise.

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