Early May bank holiday to move in 2020

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

January 31 2020

Big news:

To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the government has moved the 2020 Early May bank holiday to Friday 8th May.

It means that Monday 4th May, the original bank holiday date, is now a normal workday.

This late change is set to impact the whole country. And not just because 30 million calendars and diaries now show the wrong bank holiday date.

Because depending on your staff contracts, the new date could lead to serious business disruption (more on that later).

But first, here are the main bank holiday laws you need to know to help you prepare for the change.

Five bank holiday rules to remember

  1.       There’s no legal right to time off on bank holidays. So it’s up to you whether your staff have to work or not.
  2.       If your staff do work on a bank holiday, you don’t have to pay them higher wages—such as time and a half, or double pay.
  3.       Part-time staff have the right to the same treatment as full-time staff. If you give full-time workers paid leave on bank holidays, you must do the same for the rest of your workforce.  
  4.       If you close your workplace on bank holidays, you can make your staff take the day off as part of their annual leave.
  5.       Staff whose contracts state they must come in on bank holidays cannot refuse to work—even for religious reasons.

If your staff work on bank holidays, then the date change shouldn’t cause any issues.

But if you give your workers the day off, then what you do next depends on the wording of their contracts…

Check your contracts

As I mentioned, staff don’t have the legal right to take bank holidays off.

Instead, it’s their contract of employment that dictates when they should, or shouldn’t, be at work.

So you need to look at your employees’ terms & conditions to see if the new date impacts you.  

If your contracts say that employees’ get leave on all bank holidays, or on “Early May bank holiday”, their day off instantly swaps from the original date to the 8th. You shouldn’t need to do anything else.

But if your contracts specify bank holiday dates, or mention that staff get “4th May 2020” off, it gets a little trickier.

Compromise with your staff

The date change means that employees whose contracts say they get “the first Monday of May” as holiday are, legally speaking, still entitled to be on leave that day—even though it’s now a normal workday.

But if you think you now need to ask some staff to work the Monday instead, be careful. They might not be happy—especially if they’ve already made plans.

You can fix it by agreeing a temporary amendment to the contracts with your employees or, if they need 4th May off, asking them to take it as annual leave.

Compromises won’t work forever, though. So how can you prepare your business to stop any future bank holiday hitches?

Build flexibility into your contracts

It’s tough to predict changes like the government’s decision to postpone the bank holiday. But it does highlight the importance of the wording in your contracts.

When it comes to bank holidays, it’s best to be vague rather than too specific.

If you do give people the day off, don’t mention exact dates—just say “all bank holidays”. Or name them individually, like “August bank holiday”.

You should also include wording on what happens in your business when the government adds an extra bank holiday. This happened as recently as 2012, for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

But to make sure your paperwork is ready for future holiday changes, it’s worth getting expert support.

Peninsula’s advisers are on call 24/7 to give you FREE contracts advice that protects you from staff disputes and keeps your business safe.

Speak to an expert today on 0800 028 2420

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