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Bank holiday implications on an April to March holiday leave year

Bank holiday implications on an April to March holiday leave year.
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

For April to March leave years, depending on how the bank holidays fall, it can mean that in some years there is a bounty of bank holidays. But the knock-on effect is that in the following year there is a distinct lack. We explore what issues this can cause and if any action needs to be taken.

April to March leave years

Most employers operate an annual leave year that runs from January to December each year. However, this is not due to a legal requirement; employers can operate any annual leave year that best suits their business. Some, therefore, choose to operate an annual leave year of April to March, September to August or even based on an individual’s start date with the business (which can get complicated as the workforce grows). Most years, there are no issues with how this is managed. However, some anomalies do arise for employers who run an April to March holiday year, as it is possible for two Easter weekends to fall within the same annual leave year.

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Employers who run April to March holiday leave years can therefore end up with two Easters and two sets of Easter bank holidays in the same leave year, resulting in up to 10 bank holidays. This is known as the “fat” year. Other April to March leave years could contain no Easters, leaving only six bank holidays falling within the leave year. This is known as the “lean” year. Either way, the employer may be giving “too many” or “too few” days’ holiday per leave year, as there can be anywhere between six and 10 bank holidays in the year.

In 2024, Good Friday – which is normally in April – falls on 29 March. So, for employees on an April to March leave year they get nine bank holidays in the leave year 2023/24, but only seven in 2024/25.

Action to take

The first port of call is to check the contract of employment to see what this says. If the contract states that the employees will be given eight bank holidays off in a year, you do not need to give the extra one in 2023/24. However, if you intend to close the business for the bank holiday on 29 March 2024, you will need to inform your employees in advance that they need to use one of their remaining holiday days to book the day off as annual leave.

Alternatively, if your contract is worded in such a way that employees are entitled to all bank holidays or specifies the days that are bank holidays, ie it specifies Good Friday as a day off, you will need to give it to them as a bank holiday in 2023/24; however, you will not then be required to give them an additional day in 2024/25.

It is important to note that if you only give your employees the minimum holiday entitlement (28 days or 5.6 weeks) then for the annual leave year 2024/25 you will need to ensure your employees are given at least the legal minimum to ensure you are not in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998. For a full-time worker, seven days out of the 28 will be allocated in advance to the bank holidays, with the remaining 21 days for use at some other time.

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